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Can Overtraining Syndrome cause ME/CFS?

Discussion in 'Post-Exertional Malaise, Fatigue, and Crashes' started by md55, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. md55

    md55

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    Can Overtraining Syndrome lead to ME/CFS?

    Hello everyone, I am new to the board.

    For the past 3.5 years, I've been struggling with irritable bowel (diarrhea), post exertional malaise and fatigue. My symptoms started to show up after I decided to join a weekend rec hockey league after many years of inactivity. I pushed myself really hard in the first game and noticed a change in my bowel habits after. Thinking it was nothing, I continued on for another 1.5 months (4 more games). I finally stopped when I noticed my bowel habits weren't improving. At first I didn't really notice fatigue or PEM, all I knew was that any sort of physical activity/exertion would worsen my bowel symptoms. But as time went on, fatigue and PEM started to creep up on me and I've noticed that worsening of my bowel symptoms were linked to fatigue. The more fatigued I am, the worse my D.

    My GI specialist thinks my irritable bowel is caused by an infection, but it was not something I believed in. I always felt my symptoms showed up after I started playing hockey. After much research, I've come across Overtraining Syndrome, which has changed bowel habits as one of their symptoms. Then PEM and fatigue research led me to ME/CFS. For the first time, I've found something out there that explains my symptoms.

    I haven't been officially diagnosed with ME/CFS but am in the process of seeing a doctor to get some tests done because my symptoms are getting worse. At the moment, I am trying to get as much research done as possible. One big question I have is, can Overtraining Syndrome become or cause ME/CFS? I've read through some of the posts on this forum and noticed a few members mentioned that their ME/CFS started off with Overtraining Syndrome, maybe they can chime in on this thread some more if possible? Thanks for all your input.
     
  2. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Possibly.

    A CFS diagnosis isn't really that helpful, and to me, it seems like a bit of a dustbin diagnosis that would seem to include those suffering from over-training. If you think overtraining was your problem, I'd continue looking in to things specific to that, and maybe get advice from fitness experts? Sorry not to be more helpful, but I don't know that much about overtraining syndrome.
     
  3. ggingues

    ggingues $10 gift code at iHerb GAS343 of $40

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    I have found LDN to help with IBS, might also consider probiotics?

    GG
     
  4. PoetInSF

    PoetInSF Senior Member

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    In my case, the answer is resounding yes. When I started competitive judo training, I was getting knocked out 6 weeks at a time. That, I believe, was more like overtraining syndrome. (Some of the symptoms of overtraining syndrome look strikingly similar to CFS.) I finally figured out that it was synchronised with my judo schedule and then learn to manage it by carefully sticking to a sustainable schedule. In retrospect however, it was a high risk game. All it took was a mistake to relapse. One day I did relapse and it turned into full fledged CFS, complete with PEM and neurological symptoms.

    Anyway, the first order of business should be to get the official diagnosis just to make sure that it is not something else. (It's possible that an infection is causing your IBS problem, you never know until you get tested.) Then the best course of action available for now seems to be a slow rehabilitation. I've been at it for the past 3 years and now well enough to run (100m + 5min rest) * 4 one day and then walk 3km the next day. Still far off my pre-illness exercise capacity, but long way from struggling even to walk slowly 3 years ago. (But then, they say every patient is different, so your mileage may vary).
     
  5. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    It definitely can, and it can take years to finally manifest or completely melt down, usually or often triggered by some other event (infection, etc.). Before I got CFS, I used to bike an average of 15 miles a day, lots of calisthenics, very light weight training just for toning groups not hit by the other exercise, 5 mile powerwalking on the 1 or 2 days a week I didn't bike, swimming and tennis, and racquetball in the winter, not to mention 50-60 hour work weeks, and then the stress of graduate school. All on a low to no fat, low sodium "vegetarian" diet - not good (but I was "cleansing" toxins :rolleyes: ). Actually, it worked really well for that - I was clear as a bell - but not so great for the adrenals.

    I had no CFS symptoms then at all, except kind of low level ones caused by chronic mercury poisoning (which actually was at the root of the allergies, chronic throat infections and low energy that originally I was trying to address with the dietary means and the exercise!), and it wasn't until years later that finally I crashed after a course of prednisolone. But I think the years of taxing the adrenals to the max really set the stage for the adrenal weakness that manifested later, after the HPAA suppression by the steroid, from which there wasn't enough functional capacity left to avoid crashing.

    So if you are noticing weird symptoms now, I would say STOP and reassess what you're doing, including diet (maybe for example you're *not* a vegetarian and need to be - everyone's different - although in general, veg diet is probably not the best idea for adrenal patients), and anything else that might be straining your adrenals, including mercury toxicity, allergy, and chronic infections. Believe us, you don't want to crash down into actual CFS - which to answer your direct question, definitely can be triggered by overtraining even without steroid or other crashes. So you should definitely listen to your body, slow down now, and try to get to the root of the problem so that it doesn't get any worse. These symptoms now are your body's way of telling you something and giving you information, so it's important to listen. If you do that successfully and get to the root of the problem, whatever it might be in your particular case (mercury for many people, imho), that can lead to you actually becoming a whole lot healthier than you've probably been in a long time.
     
  6. rwac

    rwac Senior Member

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    I used to have this problem of IBS after exercize for a period of time before I actually went down with Lyme/CFS. I also used to be a vegetarian back then.

    I second Mr. Kite. Please slow down and figure out what's going on.
    Diet issues ?
    Possibly deficiencies of some sort ?
     
  7. md55

    md55

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    Thanks for everyone's input, I greatly appreciate it. I'll definately let me doctor know of my problems and hopefully they'll be able to have the right tests done on me. I find myself having trouble believing doctors now after all the horror stories of people running into doctors who basically brushed them off and told them nothing is wrong. I don't have the luxury of slowing down since I live on my own and have a full time job to manage. All I can do is really get as much rest as I can when I get the chance to and limit the amount of physical work.

    PoetInSF, what type of treatment did you recieve in order to get back on track? Being able to run and walk that amount is quite impressive.
     
  8. PoetInSF

    PoetInSF Senior Member

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    If you truly have CFS, there isn't much doctors can do for you other than symptomatic treatments. And the observed rate of 5% recovery does not add too much to hope. I'm just doing what offers me the best chance of improving for now. And all I got is an "asprin", aka graded exercise therapy. To me, a small chance of improving is better than nothing. Am I improving because of it? despite of it? I have no idea.

    Be forewarned though. The improvement rate, if at all, will be very very slow. And you may end up paying price frequently in the form of PEM if you are not very careful. My goal has been to improve QOL, not recovery, but I still pay price occasionally.

    Anyway, as others say, it might be a good idea to keep open minded and reassess the situation. CFS is a diagnosis based on exclusion and who knows, it could be something as simple as diet or changing your lifestyle.
     
  9. md55

    md55

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    Hello all, it's been a few years since this thread was made. Just wanted to bump this thread to see if anyone else is in the same boat as me. Basically my onset of CFS followed this path Overtraining/Over Exertion --> Bowel Problems --> Chronic Fatigue Onset.

    I've been through various internal specialists, done tons of tests (blood work, heart stress test, emg for muscles, 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, etc.) and my doctor is stumped.
     
    Marco likes this.
  10. Marco

    Marco Old blackguard

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    Yep pretty much so.

    No evidence of 'viral' onset. My problems started after a period of intense (for me) exercise, strict dieting and stress. The first symptoms were urinary frequency, IBS, increased anxiety and then a full collapse/faint during training. I haven't been able to exercise aerobically since (nearly 30 years now).

    Other symptoms such as 'fatigue' and cognitive problems have developed gradually over the years.

    I wish I could remember which study reported it but it was claimed that elite cyclists are at increased risk of developing ME/CFS even years after quitting competitive cycling.
     
  11. helen1

    helen1 Senior Member

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    Yes to overtraining causing CFS/ME especially endurance sports. For me it was a hiking & cycling vacation that did me in 2 years ago. Dr Myhill talks about it and treats athletes in her CFS practise.
     
  12. JalapenoLuv

    JalapenoLuv *****

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    md,

    The answer is no.

     
  13. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    My best guess is that overtraining syndrome is associated with CFS and might be a risk factor. We simply do not know if its causal, but equally we don't know it can't cause it. What we can say is that some with overtraining syndrome go on to get something that resembles CFS or ME. Treatment for overtraining is likely to be very different from CFS. Its also something for which there are a lot of experts out there, unlike CFS or ME.

    Overtraining syndrome is fairly common. CFS is fairly common. Its no surprise that the two intersect from time to time. Yet its also likely that if you are physically exhausted you might be more vulnerable to CFS or ME.
     
    Valentijn and helen1 like this.
  14. md55

    md55

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    Alex, can you elaborate on your statement of "What we can say is that some with overtraining syndrome go on to get something that resembles CFS or ME." I am really interested in knowing what the differences between actual CFS and something that resembles CFS.

    There appears to be a lot of overlap between CFS and overtraining syndrome, but I have not been able to find a definitive list that outlines the differences. Would anyone be able to point me in that direction? Thanks.
     
  15. snowathlete

    snowathlete

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    I think overtraining was a factor in my getting ME CFS though I maybe would have got it anyway. I pushed myself hard swimming and other fitness activities.

    I now recall that I used to get some kind of IBS after football and things and had a sort of collapse after swimming one time which was when I first realised there was something seriously wrong going in.

    I also started overheating and got bad headaches playing football (soccer) and even had problems staying cool while swimming!

    What caused what? I'm sure there is potential for overlap.
     
  16. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    Overtraining was one of the things that tipped me from a mild to an acute patient. Sometimes we have paid dearly for fun! :(

    Sushi
     

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