Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: What Is It and How Does it Affect Patients?

COVID-19 has brought attention to a rare condition that has been flying under the radar for years: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). With more attention, people are more willing to share their stories, doctors are more willing to diagnose, and people take CFS more seriously. It’s extremely important that this condition receives the attention it deserves, especially as an estimated 0.2 to 0.4 percent of the United Kingdom has CFS. This translates to 250,000 people in the U.K. alone.

In order to raise awareness for CFS, PatientWorthy is here to give you an overview of the rare condition.

About CFS

Also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), CFS is a rare, chronic illness that tends to impact females more than males. It is characterized by severe, inexplicable fatigue. Medical professionals do not know what causes CFS, and theories range from genetics to immune system problems to hormonal imbalances. Some doctors even dismiss CFS as a merely psychological condition. Most recently, it has been linked to COVID-19.

Symptoms

While the cause of CFS is unknown, we know that symptoms include:

  • Issues with concentration (brain fog)
  • Intense fatigue
  • Low stamina
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sleep problems
  • Pain in muscles and/or joints
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and/or armpits
  • Depression
  • Bowel dysfunction

Diagnosis

Due to the similarity of CFS symptoms to those of other conditions, along with low awareness, CFS can be very difficult to diagnose. In addition, each patient may present different symptoms; some experience more mobility issues while others feel more pain or experience more cognitive dysfunction.

Because of these problems, diagnosis consists of ruling out other conditions rather than confirming CFS. Blood and urine tests will be utilized to dismiss the possibility of kidney problems or anemia.

To aid in CFS diagnosis, the ME Association recommends considering CFS if symptoms last for more than four weeks following an infection. CFS should definitely be considered if symptoms persist for more than three months and are deeply impacting a patient’s life.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no treatment specific to CFS. Instead, doctors aim to manage one’s symptoms. Painkillers can help to manage general pain, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. Behavioral therapy could be useful if a patient experiences depression or a mood disorder due to CFS.

Patients should refer to their doctors for help managing their specific symptoms.

CFS and COVID-19

While COVID-19 is an extremely negative situation, it has been able to shed light on CFS. Because many people experience “long Covid,’ there is now more awareness of the lasting impacts that a virus can have on one’s body. People are also more understanding of how difficult it can be to live with CFS.

There have been more CFS diagnoses and increased research efforts due to the rise in awareness, which is very positive for CFS patients around the world.

You can find the source article here.

Follow us