Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome vs CFS vs Anxiety??

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Hello all,

My mother unfortunately contracted shingles around the beginning of October. While the rash has cleared, she suffered severe nerve pain afterwards. Though her nerve pain has gotten lots better (pain level dropped from a 10 to a 2 most of the time), she always seems VERY exhausted. In the beginning (at around December 2017), she felt so weak that it was hard for her to come downstairs to eat food. it was a battle for her make it to the bathroom, and other days she would lie motionless in bed without being able to talk, even. Now she is able to come downstairs and eat, she can bathe and do laundry and even wash some dishes/do light chores that don't require too much strength. She has no problem sleeping (around 7 hours a night) and if she starts feeling weak, some rest and high calorie food helps give her energy. While she hasn't made full recovery, she is certainly in a much better position and can walk around and lift 3 lb weights to exercise her arms, which felt weak. 

However, she has become EXTREMELY sensitive to sounds, gets frightened even at the thought of the door opening suddenly or the faucet running. She hates loud noises so much and cannot function around them. I am not sure what to do about this, and this just happened suddenly about a month and a half ago. Such noises trigger anxiety and panic and it's hard for us because we have a 5 year old in the house.

Here are my questions: what is the difference between post viral fatigue syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome? Is one more likely to resolve than the other? What can we do to help her recover, and is it possible to recover? Does it seem like my mother is on the track to full recovery? How do I know it is not simply anxiety that is causing the sensitivities to loud noise?

Please help, I am at a loss.

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    I'm so sorry about your mom. We had a discussion on this forum about whether post-viral fatigue (PVF) and ME/CFS were the same thing. Based on what I've read and experienced, I think they are. When I first got ill, my doctor told me I had PVF. Then another specialist referred to my illness as ME/CFS. In the end, I don't think it's useful to get hung up on this question. It's definitely possible to recover, no matter what you call this illness. I know of several people in my life who have recovered. I think the most important thing is that your mom not push beyond her "energy envelope" and that she gets plenty of rest. If my doctor had told me these two instructions I think my illness would have taken a very different course. From your post, it seems like your mom is already improving, which is a very good sign. I've never heard of anxiety causing sensitivity to sound. But such a sensitivity is quite common with ME/CFS, in addition to sensitivity to light. I think there is a very good chance that you mom will recover.

  • Posted

    cfs, me, post viral fatigue are all the same condition and there are many other names for it. good chance she will recover if she makes healthy lifestyle changes. eating better and proper rest etc. It's very important to stay positive. Depression will only make the fatigue worse!

  • Posted

    "what is the difference between post viral fatigue syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome?"

    ?PVFS is the diagnosis normally given immediately after a confirmed viral infection, but if symptoms do not improve, this tends to be classed as CFS over time.

    "Is one more likely to resolve than the other?"

    Most people with PVFS go on to improve over time, but not all do.

    "What can we do to help her recover, and is it possible to recover?"

    ?Some people do recover, but we don't know why some do and some don't. There's no good evidence for any particular intervention aiding recovery.

    "Does it seem like my mother is on the track to full recovery?"

    It's impossible to say. That she has been improving, and has not been ill for very long, are both positive signs though. It sounds as if she is in the group of those who are likely to recover, but some still will not.

    "How do I know it is not simply anxiety that is causing the sensitivities to loud noise?"

    ?Is there any reason that your mother would simply become anxious about loud noises? It doesn't sound like she's simply anxious to me, but hopefully she will get better over time.

  • Posted

    Sensitivity to sound is definitely a symptom of anxiety. I have a panic disorder and whenever it kicks in I am very sensitive to sound. It is because when you are anxious your adrenaline is high you are ready to take flight from danger so you are hypersensitive to sounds. With all she has been going through it would in no doubt cause her anxiety..

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