Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and The Important Hypothyroidism Connection

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disease that can be tricky to diagnose as the symptoms overlap with almost every chronic illness, including hypothyroidism

The symptoms common to CFS and hypothyroidism include persistent fatigue, muscle aches, sleep problems, liver tenderness, mood changes and brain fog.

Finding answers to what causes fatigue can be a tricky and frustrating process especially when you are feeling totally exhausted every day

Are Chronic Infections To Blame?

It’s well established the human body is susceptible to infections. What’s more, studies show infections that were once thought to cause short term symptoms may in fact remain active in the body.

These are often termed ‘latent infections’ despite the fact these infections can linger in the body giving rise to a range of symptoms depending on the original infection involved.

The truth is many long standing infections silently take root in the body, especially within the liver and central nervous system. Research shows some persistent infections can also find their way into the thyroid.

Types of Chronic Infections

Some of the infections implicated in chronic illness include:

  • Barmah Forest virus
  • Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium (linked to Lyme’s disease)
  • Coxiella burnetii (linked to Q fever)
  • Coxsackievirus A + B
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Echoviruses
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Flu virus
  • Hepatitis B + C
  • Herpes simplex virus 1+2 (HSV)
  • Human herpesvirus-3 (HHV-3) (linked to shingles)
  • Human herpes virus 6 (HHV)
  • Mumps virus
  • Ross River virus
  • Rubella virus
  • Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV)

Did you know rsearchers have established a clear link between thyroid autoimmune disorders and chronic infections?

One of the most intriguing environmental triggers of autoimmune thyroid diseases is infection. Indeed, there is evidence that infectious agents may trigger autoimmune thyroid diseases.”

The Best Way To Test For Chronic Infections

When a healthcare practitioner suspects you have a chronic infection they usually test for possible past infections based on your health history.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) are two very common infections. These viruses often implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome. A check of cytomegalovirus (CMV), or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibodies will reveal a latent infection.

Your healthcare practitioner will most likely request a white blood cell count (WBC) as white blood cells help fight infections. There are five major types of white blood cells, each with their own specific role;

  • Basophils
  • Eosinophils
  • Lymphocytes (T cells and B cells)
  • Monocytes
  • Neutrophils


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Desailloud R, Hober D. Viruses and thyroiditis: an update. Virol J. 2009 Jan 12;6:5.

Dittfeld A, Gwizdek K, Michalski M, Wojnicz R. A possible link between the Epstein-Barr virus infection and autoimmune thyroid disorders. Cent Eur J Immunol. 2016;41(3):297–301.

Sapra A, Bhandari P. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. [Updated 2021 Feb 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:

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Ruiz-Núñez B, Tarasse R, Vogelaar EF, Janneke Dijck-Brouwer DA and Muskiet FAJ (2018) Higher Prevalence of “Low T3 Syndrome” in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Case–Control Study. Front. Endocrinol. 9:97.

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Vojdani, A. A Potential Link between Environmental Triggers and Autoimmunity. Autoimmune Dis.2014; 2014.


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