History Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not a modern illness-though it didn't appear in medical journals until the 1930s, similar cases have been documented for several centuries. These early cases were possibly linked to infections like yellow fever, influenza, malaria, and hepatitis. In the 19th century, chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms were linked to fibromyalgia as well as depression.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Uprising
It is only since the 1980s that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has gained mainstream attention, when researchers discovered that several CFS patients had high levels of Epstein-Barr virus antibodies in their blood. These patients had encountered the Epstein-Barr virus and got mononucleosis prior to the onset of their CFS. For a brief period this illness adapted the nickname "Chronic EBV." This name was discouraged however because 90% of adults in developed countries are exposed to EBV by age 30, and their levels of antibodies could not be strongly linked to any disease.
What's in a Name?
In 1988, a panel of experts at the Center for Disease Control agreed upon the name "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" for this illness. This name was chosen because it represents the disease's most common symptom. The International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study Group decided to keep this name until a more specific cause or symptom of the illness was identified. The name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome stands yet today. In the U.K., the term myalgic encephalomyelitis is synonymous with this illness.
Complexes Similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
- epidemic neuromyasthenia
- myalgic encephalomyelitis
- postviral fatigue syndrome
- chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome
No immune dysfunction has been linked to CFS however, and there is no link between encephalomyelitis and the pathology of CFS either.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was nicknamed the "yuppie flu" in the early 1990's because of its prevalence in upper class women. This unfortunately contributed to the popular misconception that CFS is a psychosomatic condition.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complex characterized by six months or more of debilitating fatigue, and is accompanied by several other symptoms. These can include:
- Cognitive impairment
- Sore throat, other flu-like symptoms
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Muscle pain or soreness
- Extreme exhaustion after exercise
What's the Cause?
The cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome remains a mystery, but medical health professionals have concluded it is a combination of psychological and physiological factors unique to each patient. Genetics and a weakened immune system are also suspected to play a role.
What about a Cure?
Because Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has gained attention only in the last 20 years or so, research is still ongoing for a cure. Some people experience a relenting of their symptoms after six months; others continue to battle their symptoms for years. CFS is usually treated by a combination of exercise therapy and behavioral interventions.
Photo Credit: canonsnapper