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Alcohol : How Badly Can It Affect Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sufferers?
By: Claire Williams
The wonders of alcohol.
The achilles heel for many people. The 'norm' for some others. And poison if you have CFS/PVFS/M.E....
I remember when I first got Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome/CFS back in 1995, I thought that having a drink or two wouldn't affect me any differently to my PRE-CFS days.
Unfortunately I didn't realise what I was doing to myself.I didn't know how badly alcohol can affect the severity of CFS...
Nowadays I don't touch alcohol at all, and haven't done so for a few years now. I'd rather see at least a few hours in the day instead of being bedridden for weeks on end because of one alcoholic drink!
Because when you have CFS/M.E., you might as well be pouring arsenic down your throat...
Okay - so that comparison might be a little 'dramatic', but you get what I mean right?
You see when you have CFS/M.E., you are likely to develop **alcohol intolerance**...
The smallest alcoholic drink - even a tiny bit, can send you into a relapse - as I learnt the hard way many years ago.
Having an alcoholic drink now and again was enough to tip the severity of my CFS over the edge and put me in bed indefinitely.
When a **normal** person gets drunk they may feel a bit bad for a day or so, after which, they're back to 'normal', bouncing back and raring to go.
But when a person with M.E./CFS gets drunk - or even has just one drink, they're likely to feel like 'death warmed up' for what seems like an eternity!!!
Personally, I don't actually like alcohol much so I don't miss it. But even if I did, I have realised that alcohol no longer makes me feel the way it used to before I had CFS...
Drinking alcohol now feels like I'm feeding myself poison, and my body reacts accordingly - i.e. a relapse - and I suffer the consequences for a long, long time afterwards.
Unfortunately, us CFS sufferers are just not strong enough to resist the poisons of alcohol. So it's unfortunately a case of accepting it, or getting much, much worse.
As Dr Shepherd writes in his book 'Living With M.E.':
"Some people who previously enjoyed and tolerated regular consumption of alcohol without any adverse effects, now find that even small amounts make them extremely unwell."
-- p214, Dr Shepherd, 'Living With M.E.' --
So if you have M.E./CFS, it is likely that you may have developed an intolerance to alcohol.
And that's not forgetting that alcohol also affects the effects of antidepressants (often prescribed to CFS sufferers to treat their fatigue and to help sufferers sleep)! So if you're taking antidepressants, it's definitely something to bear in mind.
Having CFS/FM can be a very lonely and devastating experience and depression can be a very real and serious symptom for many CFS/FM sufferers.
So the last thing you need is to take substances that make you feel worse.
And guess what?
Yep, you've guess it, alcohol is also a depressant. So it's not a great thing to drink if you're depressed! And according to Dr Shepherd, many sufferers sadly do turn to alcohol...
But alcohol is no answer.
Apart from probably making you feel depressed, you could also develop an alcohol dependency!
What's more, if you **are** alcohol intolerant, then it would make it much harder for yourself to recover from M.E./CFS (pretty much impossible even), while you keep putting alcohol in your body.
And here's some more 'food for thought'...
When you think about how badly a CFS sufferer can be affected by **one** alcoholic drink, then how badly could alcohol be affecting you if you're drinking more???
So there you go - a whole list of reasons why you might think twice about drinking anything remotely alcoholic while you have CFS/M.E.
While you may no longer be alcohol intolerant once you have recovered from CFS/M.E., it may well be a major culprit for preventing you from **recovering** from your CFS/M.E while you still have it.
I didn't know about the possible effects of alcohol when I first had CFS/M.E...
... and I suffered the consequences. My M.E./CFS got worse. A lot worse. And I was only having a couple of drinks now and again!
So I hope this article arms you with enough info for you to make an educated decision about alcohol either way.
You never know - it may well make the difference...
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Claire Williams is editor of sleepydust.net ...
Helping You To Deal With Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, M.E. and Fibromyalgia
"From Solving Your Money Worries To Recovering From Your Condition"
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