Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).
- Chronic fatigue.
- Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), term used in the U.K.
- Chronic Epstein-Barr virus syndrome and the Yuppie Flu (in the past)
- Post-viral fatigue.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition that causes continual tiredness that is not relieved by rest. There is no known cause or cure. Until recently people who suffered from CFS would go from doctor to doctor looking for a diagnosis, only to be told it's all in their head. They often found themselves ineligible for disability benefits because their illness did not fit any defined medical category. In 1988, even though no specific cause was found, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finally recognized CFS as an official medical problem. One millions Americans are estimated to have CFS, and the incidence rate is twice as high in women as men. Surveys show that up to three quarters of sufferers have lost their job because of their condition. Others who manage to continue working have to give up social activities to spend their evenings and weekends resting.
CFS typically begins suddenly with flu-like symptoms, but instead of gradually improving after a few days, the symptoms remain for 6 months of more. It is accompanied by a debilitating exhaustion (many sufferers spend their days in bed) that is not relieved by sleep. It worsens after exercise which previously the person would have done without any problems. Read more about the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
The exact cause of CFS is not known, although there are a number of theories. For a while researchers hoped to discover one virus that may have been the culprit - initially they thought it could be the Epstein-Barr virus, but it did not explain all the cases. It is now suspected that not all people with CFS suffer from precisely the same disorder but rather from a related number of syndromes. Read more about the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome.
It typically affects people in their early 20s to mid 40s (average age 30). It is not generally seen in children or adults over the age of 65.
** According to surveys, CFS is thought to affect 4 in every 1,000 Americans.
There is no specific test for CFS. The CDC issued guidelines to help doctors diagnose the syndrome:
There is no cure for CFS because doctors still don't know what causes it. Instead treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Those most severely affected are recommended a healthy diet, to get ample rest and to exercise when possible. Low doses of antidepressants can sometimes improve sleep quality and reduce muscle pain. For more see treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Although the condition can be disabling, it is not progressive - that means, it does not become progressively worse. The prognosis for those with the condition appear to fall into 4 categories:
|Related Articles on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
For more information, see the following:
• Fibromyalgia Guide: Another chronic pain syndrome.
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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME