What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that does not improve with bed rest and may worsen with physical or mental activity. Of all chronic illnesses, CFS is one of the most mysterious. The symptoms of it include the following and at least four of the following are present for six months:

1. Forgetting things or having a hard time focusing

2. Feeling tired even after sleeping

3. Muscle pain or aches

4. Pain or aches in joints without swelling or redness

5. Feeling discomfort or "out-of sorts" for more than 24 hours after being active

6. Headaches of a new type, pattern or strength

7. Tender lymph nodes in the neck or under the arm

8. Sore throat

Anyone at any age can have CFS. Women are diagnosed with it two to four times as often as men. However, it's unclear whether CFS affects women more frequently or if women report it to their doctors more often than men do. It also affects adults more often than children, particularly adults in the 40 and 50 age groups.

No one knows for sure what causes CFS. It may occur after an infection such as a cold or viral syndrome. It can happen over time or come on suddenly. People who get CFS over time get more and more tired over weeks or months. While people who get it suddenly feel fine one day and then feel extremely tired the next. It is a difficult and unpredictable condition to have. CFS effects everyone in a different way leaving some able to function and others completely housebound.

Right now there is no cure for CFS. Many of the treatments in place work to alleviate symptoms rather than cure the condition. Treatments also vary from person to person. Discuss with your doctor ways to ease your symptoms and deal with your tiredness.

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