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Taking Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Seriously

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Taking Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Seriously

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a term used to describe a syndrome that has a severe and frequent tiredness and is unable to be resolved by resting. CFS is different from general tiredness because there is no cause such as another disease for the condition.

The causes of CFS are not exactly known and doctors have theorized that it may be a result of the human herpes-6 virus or the Epstein-Barr virus, but an exact cause has yet to be pinpointed. An inflammation of the nervous system has also been hypothesized since a faulty immune system response can cause extreme tiredness.

CFS is most common in women between the ages of 30 to 50 and other factors such as age, stress, the environment, previous illnesses and genetics can influence its development.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which makes it difficult to diagnose and may cause doctors to overlook the condition. It can be mistaken for the flu or other viral conditions. These typically include some or all of the following: headache, muscle aches and, of course, extreme fatigue and tiredness.

CFS differentiates from other illnesses if the symptoms persist for a period of at least 6 months. The symptoms appear as a new condition and are unable to be relieved by bed rest alone. CFS leaves an individual unable to do many of their normal activities. Other symptoms that may indicate that someone has CFS include feeling tired for more than 24 hours in a row, not feeling refreshed after a long rest period, problems concentrating, frequent forgetfulness, irritability, a constant and mild fever, sore throat or sore and swollen lymph nodes under the arms or in the neck.

To be diagnosed with CFS a doctor must first rule out other very common causes of fatigue such as drug or alcohol dependence, infections, muscle and nerve diseases, psychiatric or psychological illnesses, tumours and immune or autoimmune disorders which all have fatigue as a significant side effect.

While there are no specific tests for chronic fatigue, doctors have been able to see abnormal results with both white blood cell counts and on a brain MRI. Since there is no established cure for the disease, doctors focus on trying to relieve the symptoms as much as possible to make life comfortable. Treatment methods may include cognitive-behaviour theory, a healthy diet and sleep management.

Some medications may also be used in treatment to treat the symptoms including depression, pain and anxiety. Relaxation and stress-management can also improve the lives of those with CFS.


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