Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -CFS - Dream Health

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Saturday 4 April 2015

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -CFS

Credit: Georgetown University Medical Center
Chronic fatigue syndrome – CFS is a complicated disorder which causes persistent fatigue or exhaustion and affects the daily lifestyle of the person. The exhaustion or fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity and does not go away inspite of a good sleep or rest.

CFS is also known as ME - myalgic encephalomyelitis where myalgia means muscle pain and encephalomyelitis means inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord and both the terms are commonly used. CFS seems to be a serious condition which could cause long term illness and disability though several people especially children and young people tend to improve over a period of time.

The cause of this disorder is not known though there are several theories which range from viral infection to psychological stress while some are of the belief that chronic fatigue syndrome could be triggered due to a combination of factors. Since there is not a single test to confirm the diagnosis of this condition a variety of medical test may be needed to rule out other health issue with similar symptoms and the treatment is based on the symptom relief.

Signs & Symptoms 

CFS has eight signs and symptoms together with central symptoms which are related to its name. They include -
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of memory or concentration
  • Sore Throat
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
  • Pain which moves from one joint to another without redness or swelling
  • Sleep which is not refreshing
  • Extreme exhaustion for more than 24 hours after mental or physical exercise
  • Headache of a new kind, pattern or severity
NICE – Specific Guidelines for Diagnosis & Management of CFS

Some individuals are more prone to the condition due to their genes and the condition is often common in some families. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – NICE has issued specific guidelines for the diagnosis and management of CFS. According to them the diagnosis of CFS is considered.if one meets specific criteria with regards to exhaustion or fatigue, for instance, which cannot be explained by other conditions and other symptoms like sleeping problem or thinking and concentration. The diagnosis is then confirmed only when these symptoms occur for several months. There is no cure for this disorder though treatment could reduce the symptoms and the treatment plan may differ from individual to individual since each person may respond differently to the treatment.

Treatment for CFS

Some of the treatment includes –
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy - CBT
  • Structured exercise programme known as graded exercise therapy
  • Medication to control pain, sleeping problem and nausea
These treatments help to improve the condition in several cases though some are not restored to complete recovery. There could also be instances where the symptoms would get better or even worse. Some of the factors which could increase the risk of CFS comprise of:

  • Age wherein it could occur at any age and is mostly commonly within the age group of 40s and 50s
  • Gender – Women are more prone to this ailment than men though it could be more likely that women tend to report their symptoms to the physician.
  • Stress also contributes to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome.

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