Investigating the Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

According to a story from Medical Xpress, chronic fatigue syndrome is one of the most poorly understood diseases. Although the name chronic fatigue syndrome seems to merely suggest that patients are just run down or overly stressed, the reality is that the disorder can lead to severe and debilitating symptoms. Patient groups have criticized that name of the disorder because it seems to trivialize the significance of it. Researchers are still unsure what causes this syndrome.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is characterized by severe long term fatigue that can worsen significantly with even the slightest exertion and is capable of preventing a person from functioning on a day to day basis. The fatigue experienced by patients is not the result of unusual exertion, is not caused by a prior medical issue, and is not resolved by rest. It usually first appears at the 40 to 60 age range, and tends to affect women more than men. Treatment is symptomatic and there is no known cure. The cause is not well understood. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been a subject of contention, as many in the medical community refused to acknowledge the disorder as a real condition. It is a prevalent disorder, but many people may live undiagnosed. To learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome, click here.

Recent data from the UK study revealed that not even half of doctors were confident in giving a diagnosis for chronic fatigue syndrome. Other data indicates that 85 percent of patients had to switch from doctor to doctor, and that it took them over two years to actually get diagnosed.

The precise nature of the syndrome has been a significant controversy. After some data suggested that cognitive behavioral therapy could help patients recover, some researchers suggested that chronic fatigue could simply be a mental disorder. However, more recent data appears to refute this possibility, and the idea has attracted widespread criticism. Having a close relative with the condition more than doubles the risk, but the role of genetics has not been pinpointed. Some patients begin to experience their symptoms after recovery from infectious disease. In addition, most patients have abnormal immune system behavior also.

While there is ongoing research for ME/CFS, and has been for decades, these clues are starting points for more in depth research on the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. Hopefully, scientists will soon learn more about the origin of this condition.

To learn more about ME/CFS patient activism and engagement, check out #ME Action here.

To learn more about ongoing ME/CFS research, check out the Open Medicine Foundation here.

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