Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease or myalgic encephalomyelitis. It is characterized by extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest and is not caused by an underlying medical condition.
What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?
Symptoms of CFS are fatigue, loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, muscle and joint pain, headaches, sleep that does not help with fatigue, and extreme exhaustion that lasts for more than 24 hours after mental or physical exertion.
Complications of CFS include depression, social isolation, lifestyle restrictions, and increased work absences.
What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?
The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but exertion can cause extreme fatigue.
It is believed that some are born predisposed to CFS, and an environmental trigger brings the onset. Possible triggers are viral infections, hormonal imbalances, and problems with the immune system.
There are also risk factors that may increase one’s chance of developing chronic fatigue syndrome, including age, sex, and stress. Females in their 40’s and 50’s are at the highest risk of having CFS. Stress may also contribute to this syndrome.
How is chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosed?
A diagnosis for CFS can be hard to obtain, as fatigue is a symptom of many other conditions. Doctors will have to rule out other conditions, such as medical problems, sleep disorders, heart and lung impairments, and mental health problems.
What are the treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome?
A two-pronged approach has been found to be the most effective treatment for CFS. It combines cognitive training and graded exercise. The former should be discussed with a counselor to find what works for you. The latter should be worked out with a physical therapist, and intensity can be increased as time passes.