What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a relatively new condition. It was only in 1994 that a group of doctors, scientists and researchers met to determine the criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Many illnesses can claim fatigue as a symptom, so it can be difficult to diagnose Chronic Fatigue. Simply put, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition characterized by constant fatigue that does not improve with rest and may worsen with physical or mental exertion.
What is the Clinical Definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
First, the patient must have severe chronic fatigue lasting at least six months where other underlying medical conditions have been ruled out as the cause. Second, the patient must exhibit at least four of the following eight symptoms: impaired concentration or memory loss; sore throat; sore, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or underarms; muscle pain; joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type or severity; sleep that does not refresh; or exhaustion lasing more than twenty-four hours after physical or mental exertion.
Are there other Possible Symptoms?
Those diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue have often reported additional symptoms. They can be any of the following: abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, allergies, chronic cough, balance problems, earaches, chest pain, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, jaw pain, chills or night sweats, tingling sensations, dry mouth, new eye or vision problems, and weight loss or gain.
How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed?
There are no specific tests that reveal a person has Chronic Fatigue. Instead, the doctors have to exclude every other disease that could actually cause a person to experience chronic fatigue. Some diseases and conditions that need to be excluded would be cancer, sleep apnea, a low-functioning thyroid, depression, obesity, and substance abuse.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Currently, there is no specific cause identified as the root of Chronic Fatigue. For some people, it seems to follow a virus. Sometimes it is identified after a period of great stress in a patient's life. For others, there is no clear starting point. Researchers continue to search for the root causes.
What is the Risk for Contracting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Because no there is no clear cause for Chronic Fatigue, it is difficult to narrow the risks. It is estimated that one million people in the U.S. have Chronic Fatigue. Four times more women than men have been diagnosed, but that could mean that women report their symptoms more often than men. Most Chronic Fatigue patients are diagnosed in their forties and fifties, but it can affect those of any age, race or nationality.
What is the Outcome for Those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Each patient with CFS responds differently. Since there is no cure, doctors focus on dealing with the symptoms. There are some who become housebound with CFS, but many can continue to function fairly normally while they continue to deal with symptoms. Full recovery from CFS is rare, but most patients improve with follow-up care. It is very important for the patient and the doctor to work together for the patients to have a good quality of life.
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