A lesser known
condition, chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes called CFS, is a condition that
makes patients feel so tired that they can’t do all of their normal, daily
activities. There are other symptoms too, but feeling very tired for at least 6
months is the main one.
improve in a year or two and do not have a relapse. Some people continue to
have severe fatigue and other symptoms for many years.
CFS is still not
well understood. Most experts now believe that it is a separate illness with
its own set of symptoms, but some doctors do not believe this.
are no tests for CFS, many people have trouble accepting their disease or
getting their friends and family to do so. It’s important for patients to have people
in their life who believe their diagnosis and support them, along with having a
doctor they can trust.
know what causes CFS. Sometimes it begins after an illness like the flu, but
there is no proof of any connection. It’s likely that a number of factors or
triggers come together to cause CFS.
The main symptom
of CFS is extreme tiredness, or fatigue. Those who have CFS may feel exhausted
all or much of the time, may have problems sleeping, or may wake up feeling
tired or not rested. CFS may also make it harder for patients to think clearly,
to concentrate, and to remember things. Patients may have headaches, muscle and
joint pain, a sore throat, and tender glands in the neck or armpits. Often symptoms
may flare up after a mental or physical activity that used to be no problem. Depression
is common with CFS, and it can make other symptoms worse, though antidepressant
medicines can help.
before, there are no tests for CFS. Doctors can diagnose it only by ruling out
other possible causes of the fatigue. Since many other health problems can
cause fatigue, most people with fatigue have something other than chronic
While there is
no specific treatment for CFS itself, many of its symptoms can be treated. A
good relationship between doctor and patient is important because working
together to find a combination of medicines and behavior changes is the best
way to help patients get better. Some trial and error may be needed, because no
single combination of treatments works for everyone.
is very important. Patients may need to change their daily schedule, learn
better sleep habits, and start getting regular gentle exercise.
Counseling and a
gradual increase in exercise help people who have CFS get better.
Even though it
may not be easy, keeping a good attitude really helps. Try not to get caught in
a cycle of frustration, anger, and depression. Learning to cope with symptoms
and talking to others who have the same illness can help patients keep a good
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advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes
only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or
judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned
here or in any other educational medical material.