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Sign and Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a devastating and complex disorder characterized by overwhelming fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. People with CFS most often function at a significantly lower level of activity than they were capable of before the onset of illness.
In order to be diagnosed with Chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient must satisfy two criteria. Have severe chronic fatigue for at least 6 months or longer that is not relieved by rest and not due to medical or psychiatric conditions associated with fatigue as excluded by clinical diagnosis; and Concurrently have four or more of the following symptoms:
- Self-reported impairment in short-term memory or concentration severe enough to cause substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities
- Sore throat that's frequent or recurring
- Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Multi-joint pain without swelling or redness
- Headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep and
- Post-exertional malaise (extreme, prolonged exhaustion and sickness following physical or mental activity) lasting more than 24 hours
The fatigue and impaired memory or concentration must have impaired normal daily activities, along with other symptoms that must have persisted or recurred during 6 or more consecutive months of illness and must not have predated the fatigue.
Along with these; there are also other symptoms which might be present along with:
- Irritable bowel
- Depression or psychological problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)
- Chills and night sweats
- Visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain)
- Allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise
- Brain fog (feeling like you're in a mental fog)
- Difficulty maintaining upright position, dizziness, balance problems or fainting
Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The cause or causes of CFS remain unknown, despite a vigorous search. While a single cause for CFS may yet be identified, another possibility is that CFS represents a common endpoint of disease resulting from multiple causes. Conditions that have been proposed to trigger the development of CFS include virus infection or other traumatic conditions, stress, and toxins.
Some researchers have suggested that a virus causes CFS, but this hasn't been proved. At one time, researchers thought that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) played a role in the development of CFS, but carefully done studies have not confirmed this. However, a viral cause for CFS is still suspected because the symptoms often mimic those of a viral infection, such as chronic infectious mononucleosis.
Other theories suggest that any of these factors may be to blame for CFS:
- Iron-poor blood (anemia)
- Environmental allergies
- Sleep disorders
- Psychiatric or neurological problems
- Endocrine dysfunction
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Theories abound about the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome. No primary cause has been found that explains all cases of CFS, and no blood tests or brain scans can definitively diagnose the condition.
Clinical course of CFS:
The severity of CFS varies from patient to patient, with some people able to maintain fairly active lives. For most symptomatic patients, however, CFS significantly limits work, school and family activities.
CFS often follows a cyclical course, alternating between periods of illness and relative well-being. Some patients experience partial or complete remission of symptoms during the course of the illness, but symptoms often reoccur. This pattern of remission and relapse makes CFS especially hard for patients to manage. Patients who are in remission may be tempted to overdo activities when they're feeling better, which can actually cause a relapse.
The percentage of CFS patients who recover is unknown, but it is evident that the sooner a person is treated, the better the chance of improvement. This means early diagnosis and treatment are important.
Diagnosis Test to find out CFS
Diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can be complicated by a number of factors:
- There's no diagnostic laboratory test or biomarker for CFS.
- Fatigue and other symptoms of CFS are common to many illnesses.
- CFS is an invisible illness and many patients don't look sick.
- The illness has a pattern of remission and relapse.
- Symptoms vary from person to person in type, number and severity.
Common difficulties for CFS patients include problems coping with:
- The changing and unpredictable symptoms
- A decrease in stamina that interferes with daily living activities
- Memory and concentration problems that seriously impact work or school performance
- Loss of independence, livelihood and economic security
- Alterations in relationships with family and friends
- Worries about raising children
- Concerns about the potential impact of decreased sexual activity on intimate relationships
Feelings of anger, guilt, anxiety, isolation and abandonment are common in CFS patients. While it's normal to have such feelings, unresolved emotions and stress can make symptoms worse, interfere with pharmacological therapies and make recovery harder.
Resources for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: