Information About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) impacts between 800,000 and 2.5 million Americans. It's a disorder characterized by overwhelming fatigue that isn't alleviated by rest. In fact, for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, rest seems to make the problem worse.

CFS recovery varies, and in extreme cases, your doctor may recommend going to a CFS treatment center.

What Causes CFS?

CFS' main cause is unknown. However, there are many factors that may contribute to CFS, including:

  • Weak immune system
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress
  • Viruses

Multiple viral infections are thought to cause CFS due to the fact that many CFS sufferers are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, rubella, Ross River virus and/or the herpes simplex virus.

Experts believe that a combination of the following factors can cause CFS:

  • Emotional or physical trauma
  • Impaired immune system
  • Viral infections
  • Hormonal imbalances

CFS can also be caused by a bacterial infection.

Researchers believe that CFS may be the end result of a combination of several conditions, including: a viral infection, hormonal imbalance, immune system problems and physical or emotional trauma.

CFS Risk Factors

The most common demographic of individuals that are diagnosed with CFS are women. An individual is also more likely to develop CFS if they're a woman - two to four times more likely than men.

CFS Symptoms 

When you have CFS, you may experience a number of symptoms that may be both physical and mental. While the symptoms may not be severe enough to interfere with your daily life, they can make your routine more difficult to manage. 

Symptoms can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of concentration
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Symptoms can go into remission, but relapse is common. Remission cycles can make it difficult to better manage symptoms, but with the right approach, it’s possible to keep your symptoms under control.

CFS Diagnosis

CFS is a condition that often goes undiagnosed, with as many as 9-in-10 sufferers never receiving a diagnosis. Since the symptoms can be vague and a variety of conditions can cause similar symptoms, a doctor will need to first rule out conditions before providing a diagnosis. That's why CFS recovery is often provided by a CFS treatment center.

A few of the conditions that cause similar symptoms are:

  • Lupus
  • Mono
  • Lyme disease
  • Obesity
  • MS
  • Fibromyalgia

Certain medications can also lead to the symptoms you’re experiencing causing many people to stop or change their medication.

How is CFS treated?

CFS recovery can be complex because the causes vary widely, and there’s no known cure. A chronic fatigue treatment center will first analyze the symptoms you’re experiencing before trying to treat the most severe symptoms first. 

A few of the recovery options may include:

  • Medications. If you’re feeling depressed, in pain or have some form of orthostatic intolerance, medications may be recommended. The medications may be over-the-counter options, such as Advil or Motrin, or they may be prescription medications.
  • Therapy. Multiple forms of therapy can help, including counseling, addressing sleep issues and maybe even exercise.
  • CFS Recovery Center

Exercise may make your symptoms worse, but it can be an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle if tolerated well. Proper diagnosis from a doctor is the first step to treating and overcoming your CFS.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mental and physical disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest. The other name for this condition is myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), so the condition is usually referred to as ME/CFS.

To be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, your symptoms must last for at last six months and cannot be explained by underlying health conditions. 

Treatment for CFS aims to improve symptoms and provide relief, addressing the most disabling symptoms first. While some problems associated with chronic fatigue syndrome can be improved with medication, many people with CFS benefit from psychotherapy and counseling. Mental health counseling can help you develop coping skills to manage fatigue, depression, and limitations at school or work.

Also, lifestyle changes such as improved self-care, avoiding stress, and minimizing physical exertion can help save energy and cope with CFS symptoms.

Dealing with such disabling condition can be an isolating experience. Understanding CFS is crucial as it can raise awareness and familiarize people with what CFF sufferers are going through.

Who is Affected?

Anyone can get chronic fatigue syndrome. However, the condition is most common in people between 40 and 60 years old, affecting women about twice as often as men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million people in the US suffer from ME/CFS. 

Unfortunately, about 90 percent of CFS sufferers have not been diagnosed, missing the proper treatment. 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms and Complications

People who suffer from CFS cannot go after their daily routine and participate in everyday activities as they could before the illness. They usually struggle with routine activities such as school, work, childcare, social life, or personal care. 

Sleep and rest typically don’t provide any relief. A person with CFS doesn’t feel rested even after a whole night of sleep, waking up just as tired as before going to bed.

Additionally, people with CFS often experience a condition known as post-exertional malaise (PEM), in which each mental and physical activity aggravates fatigue. This condition causes debilitating exhaustion, impacting your mood, cognitive skills, productivity, and quality of your life in general. 

Other common CFS symptoms include:

  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Problems with concentration 
  • Impaired memory
  • Dizziness that worsens with changing body position (especially when standing upright)
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained muscle and joint pain
  • Excessive exhaustion after mental or physical activities
  • Sore throat

Chronic fatigue syndrome can have various complications. It can severely affect your day-to-day life, often causing mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. Also, CFS may cause you to withdraw and isolate yourself from social interactions, restricting your daily activities and increasing your work absences. 

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