Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complicated, long-term disorder marked by extreme fatigue or tiredness that lasts for at least six months and does not improve with rest and cannot be explained by any medical condition, according to Mayo Clinic. The fatigue associated with this condition worsens with mental or physical activity.

The condition is also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can affect anyone including children, although it is more prevalent in women between 40 to 60 years of age according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can have a negative effect on health, happiness and productivity of a person.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:Causes 

The exact cause of the condition is unknown. However, CDC has highlighted a few contributing factors:

  • Viral infections such as Rubella, Ross River Virus, Human Herpesvirus 6 or Epstein-Barr Virus.

  • Problems with the Immune system

  • Bacterial Infections such as chlamydia Pneumonia

  • Hormonal Imbalance

  • Mental problems such as emotional trauma or stress

  • Genetics, CFS seems to run in families

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Symptoms 

According to the US NIH, the signs and symptoms of CFS include:

  • Severe fatigue that does not improve with rest

  • Loss of memory and concentration

  • Sore throat

  • Headaches

  • Unexplained joint or muscle pain

  • Not feeling fresh after a night's sleep

  • Dizziness

  • Enlarged lymph nodes of the armpits or neck

  • Sleep disorders

  • Sensitivity to foods, odour, chemical or noise

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Diagnosis

There is no single test to confirm the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome because the symptoms of the condition are similar to many other illnesses.

However, to complete the diagnosis your doctor will review your medical history to rule out the potential causes of CFS. Few diagnosis options as suggested by Mayo Clinic include:

  • A sleep study to determine if your rest is being disturbed. Certain sleep disorders like sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome can cause chronic fatigue.

  • An exercise test to assess your heart and lung function.

  • Lab tests to check your blood for evidence of diabetes, hypothyroidism and anemia which can also cause chronic fatigue.

  • A counsellor can help you to determine if mental health issues such as major depressive disorders or anxiety is the cause of fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Treatment 

The goal of the treatment is to relieve the symptoms. According to Healthline, CFS may be a part of depression or may trigger depression. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants to the patients. Therapy is also a great option.

Dietary changes, acupuncture, or yoga may be recommended by some doctors to relieve the pain associated with the condition. Some doctors prefer cognitive training and exercise. Support from family and friends can also be helpful.

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