Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Its Impact

In our busy lives, we all have days when we feel exhausted. Maybe you got home after a tiring, long day at work with no sleep from the previous night. Then, to top it all off, you had to stay up late the next day as well to get the project completed. Maybe this was a stressful time at work, and this draining cycle went on for a few days. But fortunately, the weekend came along, and you finally got the much-needed respite.

 But what if feeling rested was not possible for you? What if, no matter how much you slept or relaxed, you woke up feeling tired and downright exhausted? What if this feeling of being run down and downright wasted was your new normal? 

Sounds difficult, right?

This is the reality for people living with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic fatigue syndrome affects 2.5 million Americans each year. Yet, there are no definitive treatments or diagnostic tests for the condition.

In this post, we will dive deeper into what chronic fatigue syndrome is, its symptoms, causes, and available treatment options. Let’s get started.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a severe, debilitating condition marked by intense fatigue and other symptoms. While it is normal to feel tired on a few occasions due to a lack of sleep or lifestyle change, people with CFS have fatigue symptoms that last for more than six months. The symptoms are severe and disrupt the day-to-day lives of affected individuals. According to CDC, at least a quarter of people with CFS are confined to their homes for extended periods due to the condition. 

CFS affects the body’s immune system, energy production system, and nervous system. Experts argue that the term CFS can trivialize the severity of the illness. Therefore, the US Institute of Medicine has proposed the name systemic exertion intolerance disease for the condition.

The exact cause of CFS is unknown, and no exact diagnostic tests are available for the condition. However, there are some potential triggers outlined for the condition that include:

  • bacterial infection, 
  • hormonal imbalances, and 
  • genetic predispositions.

Symptoms of CFS

The most common and primary symptom of CFS is overwhelming fatigue that does not get better with rest. However, the condition occurs on a vast spectrum and manifests itself differently in individuals making it extremely difficult to diagnose. 

Many people with CFS function at good energy levels prior to the onset of the condition. The development of CFS is sudden and pervasive. 

Other symptoms of the condition include the following:

  • concentration or memory issues,
  • sore throat,
  • tender lymph nodes,
  • irregular sleep patterns,
  • difficulty in sleeping,
  • dizziness while standing,
  • depression or anxiety symptoms, etc.

Read more: Brain Injury Awareness Month: Debunking The Myths

Treatment Options For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 

As of now, there is no specific treatment outlined for chronic fatigue syndrome. Instead, healthcare providers offer several ways to deal with the symptoms of the condition. 

One of the primary ways recommended for people with CFS is pacing. Pacing is a technique where patients learn to balance activity and rest periods to avoid any crashes that are caused by overexertion.

Earlier, the CDC also recommended cognitive-behavioral therapy for the condition. However, it was later retracted over concerns about the effectiveness of the treatment and potential harm to the patients.

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Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a condition characterized by intense exhaustion, brain fog, headaches, dizziness, etc. Unfortunately, there are no causes, specific symptoms, or outlined treatment options for the conditions. Doctors generally recommend ways to deal with the symptoms through lifestyle changes. 

Another condition that is chronic and debilitating but lacks a clear treatment plan or cure is Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about Alzheimer’s, click here.

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