It's often called a mystery illness. But people who suffer with this experience real pain and extreme fatigue and researchers are now helping those tired of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Paula Bushman loves working in her garden. But the former Marine and mom of three suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and some days she can't get off the couch.
"It's a 500 pound gorilla on your back," Bushman said.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. Researchers say it could be triggered by a bad virus or in Paula's case, possibly toxic water she was exposed to while stationed at Camp Lejeune. At first, doctors told her it was in her head.
"We think you need to go to a psychiatrist, and I said 'what you think I'm crazy?'" Bushman said.
It wasn't until Paula found Dr. Nancy Klimas that she finally got some answers.
"It's certainly not some abhorrent depression or psychological thing; it's a biological condition," said Dr. Klimas.
The illness involves inflammation of the brain.
"It affects how you think. It affects your cognition. It affects your hormone regulation," said Dr. Klimas.
Now Klimas and her team are on the verge of a breakthrough identifying a specific gene which will allow them to predict the best medications.
For now, Dr. Klimas put Paula on a regimen of vitamins and supplements to boost her immune system. She feels better then she has in years.
"I wasn't always in bed. I could do dishes, simple things," said Bushman.
Giving her and others fighting this debilitating illness hope.
Doctors say it's important for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome to pace themselves. The first clinical trial is expected next spring.
If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at www.ivanhoe.com.
Researchers working to provide relief for suffers of chronic fatigue
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