CFS Causal Theory

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Slayadragon, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I've been thinking for a long time about a simple theory (Occam's Razor) that would explain all the various symptoms of CFS. Finally I came up with the following analogy.

    Imagine that the human body is a fortress that is always under potential attack by foreign enemies.

    Fortunately, most human bodies are populated by soldiers with heavy machine guns. If the enemy gets close or penetrates the fortress, it is killed off quickly with minimal damage. There are some soldiers on watch for enemies outside the gate at all times, but not too many since the fortress is well-prepared to kill enemies if they get inside.

    Now, imagine that those of us with CFS have a similar number of soldiers, but that they are equipped with Civil War era guns with limited ammunition. What is the best strategy for the fort to survive?

    I would guess that it would be to have all the soldiers on lookout for as much of the time as physically possible. That way, the likelihood that they can use one of the faulty weapons to shoot down the potential invaders before it gets too close will be much higher.

    The problem with this strategy is that having everybody on lookout means that all the soldiers are exhausted and don't have the energy to do much else. Only the minimal efforts needed to keep the fort going (e.g. preparing basic food) are allowable. The soldiers themselves get a minimum amount of rest and are tired all the time.

    Another problem is that objects that are far away are hard to recognize. Some of them may be invaders, but others may be innocuous or even helpful (e.g. kindly souls bringing food). Considering the negative repercussions of letting in an invader, though, allowing them to come too close is not worth the risk.

    Now, apply this theory to the CFS sufferer. Assume that the main problem is that the immune system is dysfunctional and thus is always on red alert with regard to intruders.

    This seems to have the potential of explaining the following problems:

    1) Exhaustion. Running immune system at full alert is exhausting (which is why having the flu for normal people is such a big deal). It also causes a mild temperature in some cases.

    2) Slipping in of major invaders causes real havoc. How many of you agree with the statement that "I hardly ever get sick, but when I do I get _really_ sick?" I think I've gotten a cold about twice in the past 11 years, but it took me weeks to get over it.

    3) Slipping in of minor invaders. With guns not working correctly, some little problems (like snakes or mice) do get through. Once they're in, it's hard to kill them (since weapons are scarce and everyone is on the lookout for bigger threats). Therefore, you have little attackers like candida, Epstein-Barr and other viruses, etc. constantly hanging around. (This may include viruses that attack the brain, although the brain fog/inflamed brain could be caused by something else.) They're not major enough to take down the fort, but they do cause additional stress on it.

    4) Because the body is being hypervigilant at killing off anything that seems even remotely threatening, lots of benign or even helpful substances are killed by the immune system. This includes attacks on the glandular system (e.g. thyroid, adrenal, etc.). Food and other benign substances are also identified as threats and attacked, leading to exhaustion on the part of the soldiers (since attacking things is tiring) and leaving fewer resources to kill off true invaders.

    This seems to a) be consistent with recent evidence that CFS sufferers have faulty immune systems (based on the presence of several weak immune system genes) and b) account for pretty much all of the CFS symptoms. The only one I've left out is the fibromyalgia part, because I don't know a lot about the lymphatic system.

    I'm also not sure why people with this predisposition would be fine until a triggering incident (often some kind of physical injury followed by a "flu" that never really goes away). Most doctors seem to think that this trigger doesn't stick around causing the disease to continue (since CFS isn't very contagious beyond the first few weeks), and so it must cause some sort of permanent structural damage to the defense system. How this would work is uncertain based on my knowledge, though.

    BTW, I'm not a medical researcher, but I am a psych Ph.D. (academic rather than clinical) and thus am inclined to think in terms of theories like this. I'm not sure that this theory (even if accurate) would help in finding a cure, but at least it seems like it could be a starting point.

  2. hugs4evry1

    hugs4evry1 New Member

    I love the theory and envy the brain that can still so elequently place thoughts into words, words into action (typing) and still have it all make sense! (And you spell correctly too???

    Wow, I miss my brain the most!!


    Nancy B
  3. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    I am getting too tired to read now, but I wanted to be sure that you were bumped back up to the top page. The board is moving so fast these days.

    I will try to read this later when able. Now, to return to my vegetative stupor in blanketland.
    ((hugs)) Shannon
  4. shar6710

    shar6710 New Member

    I really like your analogy!
    [This Message was Edited on 09/11/2006]
  5. Redwillow

    Redwillow New Member

    Great story! It is much easier to understand how something works when we can picture in our minds the chain of events. Your fortress story is wonderful

    It also reminds me about the strength and power of our bodies. That under huge odds and constant seige we still continue to fight.

    hugs Marion (Redwillow)
  6. woofmom

    woofmom New Member

    My theory is that chemicals are wrecking havoc on our central nervous system (hypothalmus, autonomic nervous system).
  7. Summit

    Summit New Member

    I think it's a fun description of what is basically going on. Thankfully, the medical community is addressing (seriously) finally, that Fibro and CFS do indeed exist (other than just in our heads) and they are looking into therories on the why's and wherefore's. I don't anticipate any great breakthroughs or cures, but at least they are intersted. With a disease that has soo many things attached to it (fibro in my case) it's hard to explain all the things that are going on to your doctor (and about impossible to explain to someone who doesn't have it) so your explaination is as good as any!
  8. foggyfroggy

    foggyfroggy Guest

    I love it!
    Excellently put, and in language we can all understand - and as Brooksimom said - how in the world have you kept enough brain power to actually keep this all straight in you mind, write it cogently in full sentences and spell it all right too! You must have born with many more brain cells than average to still have that many left.

  9. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    That about sums everything up. There is a lot of research to back this up, too. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

  10. Forebearance

    Forebearance Member

    I could just add one bit of experience. I had a low grade fever for the first three years I had CFS, and during that time I would experience the "three hour cold".

    I could catch a cold, feel it start in my throat, move into my lungs, move back up into my throat and out my nose, all in the space of three hours. It was wild!

    Now that I no longer have a constant fever, I catch colds very easily and it takes me a long time to get rid of them.

    What makes CFS complicated is that you can have different symptoms at different stages of the illness.

    I guess the soldiers and command center go through stages.

  11. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

  12. Lolalee

    Lolalee New Member

    YIKES!!! I will have to re-read your theories over and over to get the full meaning. However, my body does feel like there is a full-scale war going on!!!

    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to post this really interesting info.


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