What Exactly is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

woman suffering from fatigue

First recognized in the 80s, CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex and disabling illness characterized by severe fatigue that persists for six or more months. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one up to four million individuals in the U.S. suffer from symptoms of chronic fatigue, which could lead them to struggle through their daily lives using only approximately half of their normal energy reserves. Also known as immune dysfunction syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis, other health disorders could sometimes cause chronic fatigue syndrome.

Common Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

While many studies have been done on CFS, not one study has specifically identified a definite cause of the illness, says chronic fatigues syndrome treatment specialists from centers like RedRiver Health and Wellness Center in Las Vegas. Instead, studies have found that CFS could be the result of one or more of these factors:

  • Genetics – Some individuals might be inherently susceptible to CFS due to genetics.
  • Infections – These include certain herpes viruses, Epstein Barr viruses, as well as retrovirus XMRV.
  • Trauma – This is due to the physical and emotional stress associated with surviving traumatic incidents.
  • Neuroendocrinology – This might be due to the complex interaction between hormones and neurotransmitters.

Do You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

a woman clinching her nose

To be diagnosed with CFS, you should have experienced severe fatigue that have persisted for six or more months, and your doctor should have ruled out eliminated other possible causes like depression, anemia, or a sleep disorder. In addition, you also should have four or more of these common CFS symptoms:

  • Sore lymph nodes;
  • Sore throat;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Short-term memory or concentration difficulties;
  • Headaches that are unusual for you;
  • Pain in multiple joints, but without swelling or redness;
  • Malaise or feeling more tired than usual, for 24 hours after working out; and
  • Sleep that doesn’t make you feel refreshed.

With CFS, severe tiredness manifests before other symptoms, but plenty of individuals have reported experiencing flu-like symptoms before long-term fatigue setting in. In some cases, CFS is also associated with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and anxiety disorder.

What It Feels Like to have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

While symptoms of CFS vary significantly from one individual to another, chronic fatigue or severe tiredness that affects daily activities or work is pretty much the norm. Patients might likewise complain of aches and pains and some sort of brain fog, which makes it difficult for them to concentrate or recall recent details or events. If you have been feeling exhausted for more than six months, having difficulty performing your daily tasks, and have tried stress-busting techniques to no avail, it’s time you consult a doctor.

Studies state that nearly 80% of individuals with CFS haven’t gotten a formal diagnosis and thus aren’t getting proper treatment, but getting an early and accurate diagnosis would help increase your chances of managing your symptoms through early and proper treatment. Yes, living with chronic fatigue syndrome could be tough. In time, however, you could find the right treatment program and learn coping tactics to help manage your condition.

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