Australian scientists from University of New South Wales have discovered that temporary injury to the brain during early inflammatory stages of glandular fever could lead to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
More specifically, it might be related to specific regions of the brain that play a critical role in the perception pain and fatigue. An acute glandular fever infection could damage the above-mentioned regions of the brain. This highlights a probable association between the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), an organism that causes glandular fever. It might even serve as a trigger for CFS in susceptible individuals.
Most people with glandular fever recover within few weeks or months. However, a small group of the sufferers develop disabling symptoms and prolonged fatigue (CFS) that might last for 6 months or even longer.
Currently, CFS affects 1 in 100 Aussies and a million others, worldwide. No proper psychiatric or medical explanation has been able to account for the symptoms, which include muscle and joint pain, poor sleep, prolonged fatigue, concentration and memory loss.
CFS, significantly affects the functionality of an individual. In most cases, withdrawal from school or work may be necessary. Several theories related to muscular disorder, immune system disorder, psychiatric disorder and hormonal changes have been suggested as a possible cause of CFS.
The researchers closely monitored 39 individuals with a diagnosis of glandular fever, for over a year. The study participants were sick for at least 6 months. 31 of the participants had a quick recovery from the viral infection. Patients who recovered quickly and those who had developed CFS had similar levels of the virus in their blood.
The researchers hypothesize that a 'hit and run' brain injury associated with the viral infection could lead to CFS. In other words, it might be more due to brain changes rather than the virus itself. The hypothesis would be tested through brain scan studies on the affected individuals.
Let us hope that this research would improve our understanding about CFS and open new avenues for treatment of the same.