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What is the connection between chronic fatigue syndrome and lactate?

People with CFS may have higher levels of lactate. "Chronic fatigue syndrome often develops on the heels of flu-like illness from which the patient does not really recover," said Dr. Dikoma Shungu. "They remain sick and start feeling very, very tired." The illness may set in motion a chain of events, he explained: As the body works to fight off the infection and attempts to neutralize viruses and bacteria, the immune system forms highly reactive molecules called free radicals. These molecules sometimes accumulate in such high numbers that they create a destructive process called oxidative stress, which targets and destroys the mitochondria, the cellular "engine" that processes oxygen and generates energy for cell function. When these can no longer produce cellular energy, an alternate energy-production process kicks in called glycolysis – "and the end product of glycolysis is lactate, also called lactic acid, which is what we're detecting," Dr. Shungu said.

Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine

Lactate production sometimes increases when energy production is inefficient, as may occur in CFS and what is called "anaerobic metabolism." The concern is that the elevated lactate can cause both muscle aches and put people on a hair trigger for hyperventilation/anxiety attacks. In most cases of CFS, lactate elevation is a very minor part of the problem. The key is to get to the underlying problems with energy production and the problems draining your energy.

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