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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you or someone you know suffers from chronic fatigue that never seems to go away and is interfering with the quality of their life, it’s probably CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). Aptly named, CFS is a chronic condition that is characterized by fatigue or exhaustion.
Often there is no known cause. This can be very frustrating for the sufferer and those who live with someone who is suffering in this way. It’s so much worse than just being tired and unfortunately, people who don’t have it often don’t understand it.
Many people with CFS feel judged, misunderstood and not heard. Worse, some people who experience short-term exhaustion will self-diagnose and say that the latest diet or treatment fixed them, which can complicate issues even more for the sufferer who has undoubtedly tried everything under the sun to get better but can’t. Maybe the next thing will help. Keep trying.
But, like most things that are scary, understanding the issue can often help one deal with it in a new way. You may not find a cure, but you can learn how to deal with it, and stand up for yourself or your loved one who has it.
What Is CFS?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a very debilitating disease of unknown origin. It’s characterized by persistent exhaustion, reduction of productivity, loss of quality of life, along with depression.
Rather than simply being a symptom of another disease (which it can be), it’s a debilitating issue all on its own that sometimes cannot be properly diagnosed or treated due to the abundance of symptoms that sometimes come and go. But the thing that makes it chronic is the fact that it always comes back.
The people who get CFS are varied, making diagnosis especially difficult. Over one million Americans have it, and many more around the world. In fact, it’s even got a new name since so many people have it. The new name is myalgic encephalomyelitis and it is now often called ME for short.
In this report, we’re going to call it CFS since that’s still what it's most commonly called. However, ME is probably more accurate.
What we do know about CFS is:
* People who get it are often in their 40s and 50s - but anyone can get it.
* Women develop it four times as often as others.
* It's often not serious but for about a quarter it is severe.
If the condition is mild, most people manage it on their own and never even seek professional care about it because they think it’s normal.
People with moderate symptoms tend to seek help because they cannot move around for long periods of time and have no choice but to nap in the afternoons. This is when it starts interfering with jobs or worse, causing additional issues as people seek relief using stimulating drugs.
When symptoms get severe, it’s beginning to affect the quality of life in a bad way - as badly as anyone with issues people deem more serious like lupus, heart disease, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Triggers of CFS
Right now, we do not know what causes CFS. However, there does seem to be a family genetic history to it in some cases. We don’t know yet if this is just that the family is more susceptible, or that something in the genetic makeup is causing it.
There is also some research to suggest that some people who have CFS also have the Epstein-Barr virus (known to cause mononucleosis) or the Ross River virus (a debilitating virus which affects joints, making them painful and swollen).
In addition, a lot of CFS suffers are found to have Coxiella burnetii - a bacterial pathogen which causes fever, usually when someone is already infected with something else. But we still don’t know what comes first, CFS or another disease such as Lyme Disease which is also characterized by chronic fatigue. CFS goes together with other illnesses too, from MS to fibromyalgia to hypothyroidism and many others.
If you or someone you know gets sick and then seems to take an extra long time to recover or is not recovering, suspect CFS to be an issue. If you know what it could be, you can alert the doctor who can ask the right questions so that you can get the right diagnosis.
Symptoms of CFS
There are many symptoms of CFS, so let’s talk about as many of them as we can. It’s important to note that the main symptom is fatigue or exhaustion for six months or more that doesn’t seem to be getting better, but that isn’t all. Many of the other symptoms can be just as debilitating and made worse piled on top of chronic fatigue.
The main characteristic of CFS is the debilitating fatigue. As mentioned, if the fatigue is lasting six months or more, it’s considered a big indicator that the patient has CFS. Fatigue itself is characterized by a whole host of symptoms too, such as chronic sleepiness, headache, vertigo, aching muscles, muscle weakness, imparted reflexes, judgment issues, moodiness and more.