Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a medical illness that causes excessive exhaustion or weariness that does not go away with rest and cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and systemic exertion intolerance illness (SEID).
The causes of CFS are not completely known. Some ideas propose that the cause is a viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of things. Chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose since no one cause has been found, and because many other disorders show comparable symptoms.
There are no Chronic fatigue syndrome tests. When obtaining a diagnosis, your doctor will need to rule out other possible explanations of your weariness. CFS was once a contentious diagnosis, but it is now commonly recognised as a medical disorder. Chronic fatigue syndrome may affect anybody, although it is more frequent in women in their forties and fifties. There is no cure at the moment, however, therapy can alleviate symptoms.
Here’s everything you need to know about Chronic fatigue syndrome, including symptoms, treatment choices, and the long-term prospects.
Causes Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome has an unclear aetiology. Contributing variables, according to the researchers, might include:
- Weakened immune system
- Hormonal imbalances
It’s also probable that certain people are susceptible genetically to developing Chronic fatigue syndrome. Though CFS can often develop as a result of a viral infection, no specific kind of virus has been identified as the cause of CFS. Among the viral infections researched in connection to Chronic fatigue syndrome are those induced by:
Bacterial infections, such as Coxiella burnetii and Mycoplasma pneumonia, have also been examined in relation to CFS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chronic fatigue syndrome may be the end stage of several distinct illnesses rather than one specific ailment.
In reality, approximately one in every ten patients infected with EBV, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetii will develop a condition that fits the criteria for a Chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis. Furthermore, people who have experienced severe symptoms from any of these three diseases are at a greater chance of having CFS later in life, according to the study.
People with Chronic fatigue syndrome may have reduced immune systems, but experts are unsure if this is sufficient to trigger the condition. People suffering from CFS may also have aberrant hormone levels. Doctors haven’t decided if this is important or not.
Risk Factors Associated With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is most frequent in persons in their forties and fifties. Sex also plays a role in CFS, with women being two to four times more likely than males to be diagnosed. Other variables that may enhance your chances of developing Chronic fatigue syndrome include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Environmental factors
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS symptoms vary depending on the individual and the severity of the disorder. The most prevalent symptom is an extreme weariness that interferes with regular activity. To be diagnosed with Chronic fatigue syndrome, you must have a considerably diminished capacity to do your typical daily activities due to exhaustion for at least 6 months. It can’t be cured by bed rest.
You will also feel extremely tired after engaging in physical or mental activity, which is known as post-exertional malaise (PEM). This might linger for up to 24 hours following the event. Chronic fatigue syndrome can also cause sleep issues, such as:
- Feeling drained after a night’s sleep
- Chronic insomnia
- Other sleep issues
- Memory loss
- Decreased concentration
- Intolerance to orthostatic pressure (going from lying or seated to standing positions makes you light-headed, dizzy, or faint)
CFS physical symptoms may include:
- Muscular soreness
- Recurrent headaches
- Multi-joint ache with no redness or oedema
- Recurring throat pain
- Tight and inflamed lymph nodes in your neck and armpit
Chronic fatigue syndrome affects some people in cycles, with times of feeling worse followed by periods of feeling better. Symptoms may even subside entirely in rare cases, a condition known as remission. It is still possible for symptoms to reappear later, which is known as a relapse.
This pattern of remission and relapse might make managing your symptoms tough, but it is achievable.
How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed?
CFS is a difficult disorder to diagnose. According to the Institute of Medicine, CFS affects around 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans as of 2015. However, it is believed that 84 to 91 per cent have yet to acquire a diagnosis.
There are no medical tests that can detect CFS. Its symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases. Because many persons with CFS do not “appear unwell,” clinicians may fail to identify that they have a medical problem. To get a Chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis, your doctor will rule out other possible reasons and go over your medical history with you.
They will certify that you have at least the previously described key symptoms. They will also inquire as to the length and intensity of your inexplicable weariness. Eliminating other possible reasons for your weariness is an important aspect of the diagnosing procedure. Some illnesses that have symptoms similar to CFS include:
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lupus (SLE)
- Major depressive disorder
- Severe obesity
- Sleep disorders
Certain medicines’ adverse effects, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can also resemble CFS symptoms. Because the symptoms of Chronic fatigue syndrome are similar to those of many other disorders, it is critical not to self-diagnose. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor. They can collaborate with you to find relief.
Treatment For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is presently no cure for CFS. Because each person has unique symptoms, multiple forms of therapy may be required to manage the disease and alleviate symptoms.
Collaborate with your healthcare team to develop the optimal treatment plan for you. They can discuss the therapy’ potential advantages and drawbacks with you.
Addressing Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM) Symptoms
PEM occurs when even little physical, mental, or emotional effort worsens Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Symptoms often worsen 12 to 48 hours after the activity and can linger for days or even weeks.
Activity management, also known as pacing, can assist in balancing rest and activity in order to minimise PEM flare-ups. To stay inside your particular boundaries for mental and physical tasks, you’ll need to identify them, schedule them, and then relax.
Staying inside these boundaries is referred to as the “energetic envelope” by some doctors. Keeping a journal of your activities may assist you in determining your personal boundaries. While strong aerobic exercise is beneficial for most chronic diseases, many with CFS do not tolerate such programmes.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes
Making a few lifestyle modifications may help to alleviate your symptoms. Caffeine use should be reduced or eliminated to improve sleep and alleviate insomnia. You should also minimise or avoid using nicotine and alcohol.
If napping during the day is interfering with your ability to sleep at night, try to avoid it. Make a sleep schedule. Every night, go to bed at the same time and try to wake up at the same time every day.
In most cases, no single drug can alleviate all of your symptoms. Also, because your symptoms may vary over time, your medications may need to alter as well. Chronic fatigue syndrome may either cause or be a sign of depression in many circumstances. Low-dose antidepressant treatment or a referral to a mental health specialist may be required.
If lifestyle adjustments do not result in a restful night’s sleep, your doctor may advise you to use a sleep aid. Pain relievers might also help you deal with the aches and pains produced by CFS. If pharmaceutical therapy is required, it must be customised to your specific requirements. Collaboration with your doctor is essential. There is no one-size-fits-all cure for Chronic fatigue syndrome.
Acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and massage may aid in the relief of CFS-related discomfort. Before commencing any alternative or complementary therapy, always consult with your doctor.
What to expect in the long term?
Despite expanded research efforts, Chronic fatigue syndrome remains a complicated disorder with no clear aetiology or solution. The rate of recovery is only 5%. Managing CFS can thus be difficult.
To adjust to your chronic fatigue, you’ll most likely need to make some lifestyle modifications. As a result, you may feel depressed, anxious, or socially isolated. Joining a support group may be beneficial to you as you make decisions and changes.
Because everyone’s CFS evolves differently, it’s critical to collaborate with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that suits your specific requirements. Working with a team of healthcare providers benefits many people. Doctors, therapists, and rehabilitation experts are examples of professionals that may be included.
If you have Chronic fatigue syndrome, the Solve ME/CFS Initiative contains materials that you might find useful. The CDC also provides advice on how to manage and live with CFS.