What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom of this disease is extreme tiredness.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as ME, which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. There’s some debate over the right term to use for the condition, but we will refer to it as CFS/ME.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) is a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition.
As mentioned above, CFS can also be referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME Disease) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).
The causes of CFS/ME are not clear. Few theories include viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of factors.
Due to no single cause has been identified, and because many other illnesses produce similar symptoms, CFS/ME can be difficult to diagnose.
There are no tests for CFS/ME, so your doctor will have to rule out other causes for your fatigue when figuring out a diagnosis.
While CFS/ME has in the past been a controversial diagnosis, But it’s now widely accepted as a medical condition.
CFS/ME can affect anyone, though it’s most common among women in their 40s and 50s. There’s currently no cure, so treatment for CFS focuses only on relieving symptoms.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME Disease)
The main symptom of CFS/ME Disease is feeling extremely tired and generally unwell. As well as, people experiencing CFS/ME can have other symptoms, including:
- Sleep problems
- Muscle and joint pain
- Frequent Headaches
- A sore throat
- Sore glands that aren’t swollen
- Problems in thinking, remembering and concentrating
- Unexplained muscle
- Flu-like symptoms
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling sick
- Fast and irregular heartbeats
- Extreme exhaustion
Causes of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME Disease)
The severity of CFS/ME can vary from day to day, or even within a day. The symptoms of Chronic fatigue syndrome are similar to the symptoms of some other illnesses, so it’s important to see your doctor to get a correct diagnosis.
It’s not known what exactly causes Chronic fatigue syndrome, but there are a number of theories, For example, it may be caused by an infection, or certain factors could make you more likely to develop the illness.
Causes for CFS/ME can include:
- Viral infections: Such as glandular fever
- Bacterial infections: Such as pneumonia
- Immune system problems
- Hormone imbalance
- Mental health problems: Such as stress and emotional trauma
- Genes – CFS/ME is more common in some families
Risk factors for CFS/ME
CFS/ME is most common among the people in their 40s and 50s.
Gender also plays an important role in CFS/ME, as women are two to four times higher on risk of Chronic fatigue syndrome.
Genetic predisposition, allergies, stress, and environmental factors can also increase your risk to Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME Disease).
Diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
There are no lab tests to screen for CFS/ME, and its symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. Many people with CFS/ME don’t seem sick, so doctors recognize that they’re ill.
In order to diagnose CFS/ME, your doctor will rule out other potential causes and review your medical history with you.
They’ll make sure that you have at least 4 of the above symptoms of CFS/ME. They’ll also ask about the duration and severity of patient’s unexplained fatigue.
Ruling out other potential causes of patient’s fatigue is a key part of the diagnosis process.
Some conditions whose symptoms resemble those of CFS/ME include:
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lupus (SLE)
- Major depressive disorder
Many of the symptoms experienced with CFS/ME are similar to symptoms of severe obesity, depression, or sleep disorders.
The side effects of certain drugs, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can mimic CFS as well.
Because the symptoms of CFS resemble those of many other conditions, it’s important not to self-diagnose and to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
Complications of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
Most Possible complications of CFS/ME include:
- Social isolation
- Lifestyle restrictions
- Increased work absences
Treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
Treatment for CFS/ME Disease focused to relieve the symptoms. Your treatment will depend on how a condition is affecting you.
Treatments can include:
- CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy
- GET – a structured exercise programme called graded exercise therapy
- Medication in order to control pain, nausea and sleeping problems
- Antidepressants – for people with CFS/ME who are in pain and having trouble sleeping
Most people with CFS/ME get better over time, although some people don’t make a full recovery. It’s also likely there will be periods when symptoms of CFS/ME get better or worse. Children and young people with this condition are more likely to recover fully.
Other Treatment can include:
- Lifestyle Changes
- Diet and supplements management
- Rest, Sleep and relaxation
- Alternative Therapy like Yoga Acupuncture, tai chi, and massage
Watch this Interesting Video
This mini-documentary tells the stories of 3 people who have been impacted by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) – a devastating, energy-sapping disease that affects roughly 836,000-2.5 million people in the U.S. and receives little research funding. Video credit: Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Online
Living with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)
Living with CFS/ME disease can be difficult. Extreme tiredness and other physical symptoms can make it hard to carry out routine activities. You need have to make some major lifestyle changes.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can also affect your mental and emotional health and have a negative effect on your self-esteem.
ME Association is a charity organisation that provides information, support and practical advice for people affected by the Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME).
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