What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) affects roughly one million people (a number that may be conservative given the CDC estimates 90% of possible cases go undiagnosed). The majority of those diagnosed are women from 30-50 years old. CFS may also be referred to as Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Similar to chronic pain diseases, CFS can be debilitating, make it difficult to function and take care of everyday routine tasks. The primary diagnosis consists of 6 or more months of continuous extreme tiredness and lethargy not improved by rest or sleep. Also, the fatigue stands alone and not caused by a repercussion of another illness.

Other accompanying symptoms might include

  • Inability to concentrate and lack of focus

  • Achy muscles

  • Headaches

  • Tender lymph nodes (usually in the neck or underarms)

  • Sore throat that persists

  • Dizziness and faint

  • Low-grade fever

  • Irritable Bowel

Symptoms experienced and the intensity of each will vary from person to person, and generally speaking, it feels like having the constant flu. In some cases, CFS patients will find themselves bed-bound or very rarely actively moving around. And, one of the challenges with these type of symptoms is that they are not apparent to others. Therefore, those who suffer from these may have difficulty expressing and conveying to others how what they are feeling on the inside hampers their everyday lives. It's often assumed that it's "all in the head."

Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer for what causes CFS. This fact can be immensely frustrating for those who have to endure what they are feeling. Diseases with no known cause are difficult to treat and patients often go through cycles of trial and error to manage their symptoms and to make themselves feel better.

However, recent studies have suggested that CFS is an inflammatory diseases. One of the key indicators of these findings are symptoms such as, sore throat, fever, tenderness which are all related to inflammation. Researchers are also considering how stress, toxins and a possible virus may be the cause.

Despite the mysteries surround CFS it is very real and has a huge impact on the lifestyle of those who suffer. If you think this might be you there is no harm at contacting your doctor and relaying your symptoms and concerns. Stay tuned for further posts on treatments and other suggestions on how to relieve the suffering caused by CFS.