Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS for short) is an illness characterised by persistent medically unexplained fatigue.CFS may also be called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME),Epstein-Barr disease,post-viral fatigue syndrome,or chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).
Chronic fatigue syndrome has frequently been viewed as hypochondriacal behavior or “yuppie flu”.But most experts now agree that chronic fatigue syndrome is a distinct disease with physical symptoms.
The most prominent symptom of CFS is an unexplained feeling of fatigue,which is not relieved by rest.Symptoms of chronic fatigue also include muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, bowel problems,unexplained headaches, forgetfulness,poor concentration,confusion,poor temperature control and difficulty sleeping.Fibromyalgia and arthritis are frequent accompaniments to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not well understood.
Conditions that have been proposed to trigger the development of chronic fatigue include virus infection and toxins.Some theories suggests that chronic fatigue is related to stress,overwork,physical inactivity,problems with the immune system,low blood pressure,or hormonal imbalance.Colitis,hypoglycemia and brucellosis can also cause chronic fatigue syndrome.
Regardless of the cause, chronic fatigue has a major impact on the quality of life.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is very hard to diagnose, and many people go for years without knowing that they have it. No laboratory tests are available to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.The diagnosis of CFS is made only if no other cause,including side effects of drugs,is found to explain the fatigue.
Unexplained chronic fatigue cases can be classified as CFS if the patient has a minimum of four of the following eight symptoms:impairment of short-term memory and concentration,sore throat,tender lymph nodes,muscle pain,multi-joint pain,headaches of a new type or pattern or severity,unrefreshing sleep,and fatigue lasting more than 24 hours after physical exertion.
For a patient to be officially diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, the symptoms must have persisted for at least six months.
If the patient’s symptoms do not meet the criteria for CFS, then the condition is referred to as idiopathic chronic fatigue.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a frustrating illness that affects people of all ages.Because there is no specific diagnostic test for chronic fatigue syndrome,no one knows how many people suffer from this illness.It is estimated that half a million Americans suffer from CFS. Women are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome two to four times as often as men are.It’s not clear,however,whether CFS affects women more frequently – or if women report it to their doctors more often than men do.
Treating CFS presents a significant challenge to people with chronic fatigue and their healthcare practitioners.