What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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Clinical Definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome via Mayo Clinic

Before we start on the clinical aspect of CFS I hope that whomever comes across this understands there is a HUGE MAJOR difference than being “tired” and having CFS.  I am glad you are here to learn more about it, especially if someone you love deals with it.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.

Symptoms

Chronic fatigue syndrome has eight official symptoms, plus the central symptom that gives the condition its name:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
  • Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.

There’s no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. You may have to undergo a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome focuses on symptom relief.

When To See A Doctor

Fatigue can be a symptom of many illnesses, such as infections or psychological disorders. In general, see your doctor if you have persistent or excessive fatigue.

What Causes CFS – CFS is a close friend of Fibromyalgia they like to “play together”

Scientists don’t know exactly what causes chronic fatigue syndrome. It may be a combination of factors that affect people who were born with a predisposition for the disorder. Some of the factors that have been studied include:

  • Viral infections. Because some people develop chronic fatigue syndrome after having a viral infection, researchers have wondered if some viruses might trigger the disorder. Suspicious viruses have included Epstein-Barr, human herpesvirus 6 and mouse leukemia viruses. No conclusive link has yet been found.
  • Immune system problems. The immune systems of people who have chronic fatigue syndrome appear to be impaired slightly, but it’s unclear if this impairment is enough to actually cause the disorder.
  • Hormonal imbalances. People who have chronic fatigue syndrome also sometimes experience abnormal blood levels of hormones produced in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland or adrenal glands. But the significance of these abnormalities is still unknown.
 Complications

Possible complications of chronic fatigue syndrome include:

  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Lifestyle restrictions
  • Increased work absences

Tests & Diagnosis

There’s no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Because the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can mimic so many other health problems, you may need patience while waiting for a diagnosis. Your doctor must rule out a number of other illnesses before diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome. These may include:

  • Sleep disorders. Chronic fatigue can be caused by sleep disorders. A sleep study can determine if your rest is being disturbed by disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or insomnia.
  • Medical problems. Fatigue is a common symptom in several medical conditions, such as anemia, diabetes and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Lab tests can check your blood for evidence of some of the top suspects.
  • Mental health issues. Fatigue is also a symptom of a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A counselor can help determine if one of these problems is causing your fatigue.

Diagnostic Criteria

To meet the diagnostic criteria of chronic fatigue syndrome, you must have unexplained, persistent fatigue for six months or more, along with at least four of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
  • Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

If you like to learn more you can visit the Mayo Clinic HERE

There are a lot of “experts” out there who argue these points daily….some say it’s “made up” others feel it’s “viral” and some just are not sure.  Only the people who go through this experience can fully comprehend the severity of CFS.  With reports from others like myself the great majority of us think they are grasping at straws they don’t understand yet.  We know our minds and bodies better, we just now have to get it through some of these “experts” that we’re not crazy in the head!

Wishing You A Fresh Start Everyday,

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Jamie Volner, Tucson, Arizona 800-207-5815

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