Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a chronic, debilitating disorder. It affects your brain and multiple parts of your body. It causes extreme fatigue and is not relieved by bed rest. Physical or mental fatigue often makes the condition worse. Symptoms last at least six months and are severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
There is no specific lab test or clinical sign for CFS. No one knows exactly how many people are affected by this illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, that as many as 500,000 people in the US have a CFS-like condition.
No one knows what causes CFS. For more than a century, doctors have reported seeing illnesses similar to it. In the 1860s, Dr. George Beard named the syndrome neurasthenia. He thought it was a nervous disorder...
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop chronic fatigue syndrome with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing CFS. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for developing CFS may include:
CFS is diagnosed one and half times more often in women than in men. This may be due to biological, psychological, and/or social influences. For example:
- CFS may have a gender difference.
- Women may be more likely than men to talk with their doctors about CFS-like symptoms.
However, an increasingly diverse patient group seems to be emerging as...
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may occur suddenly after you have a cold, bronchitis, hepatitis, or an intestinal infection. Symptoms may follow a bout of infectious mononucleosis (mono), which is caused by a virus that temporarily saps your energy. CFS can also begin after a period of high stress. Sometimes it develops more gradually, with no clear illness or other event noted as a starting point.
Unlike flu symptoms that usually go away in a few days or weeks, symptoms of CFS persist or recur in cycles for at least six months in 50% of time. CFS symptoms vary from person to person. Since 1994, the guidelines for diagnosing CFS include, in addition to a six-month history of fatigue that is not relieved with bed rest, at least four of the following eight symptoms:
A diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is based on the following criteria:
- Severe, chronic fatigue that lasts for at least 6 months in 50% of time and is not due to another illness or medical cause
- At least four of the following eight symptoms:
- Impairment of short-term memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Tender lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain without swelling or redness
- Sleep that is not refreshing
- Prolonged fatigue lasting 24 hours or more after exercise
If you have these symptoms, your doctor will conduct more tests. The tests will look for other causes of the symptoms. This may involve:
Your doctor will ask you for a detailed medical history. A complete physical exam will be...
There are no guidelines for preventing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Research is under way for a better understanding of CFS and ways to prevent it. However, it is sensible to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Moreover, try to avoid the use of the following drugs since they are known to cause fatigue:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
Description of Services Provided:
The CDC provides information on CFS for consumers and professionals, including diagnostic criteria, treatment, support groups, research on CFS, and a variety of publications addressing CFS in different populations.
Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America
CFIDS Association of America
PO Box 220398
Charlotte, NC 28222-0398
Description of Services Provided:
This site provides a variety of information for consumers,...
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