What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition of extreme and continuous tiredness. The fatigue does not go away with rest; and people suffering from this are unable to perform simple activities of daily routine. The condition is also referred to as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). People with CFS remain in a state of fatigue for months or even years without any particular reason. Although it may affect anyone, women in their 40s and 50s develop it often and easily.
The actual cause of CFS is unknown as different people show different symptoms. Besides, fatigue or tiredness is also a common symptom of various other medical conditions. However, some theories relate it to viral infections and psychological stress. People who have suffered from a viral infection are observed to develop CFS. Similarly, those who have suffered from depression, a severe accident, a complicated surgery, death of a loved one, have also developed this condition later.
Specific features may be referred to as the risk factor for CFS as they increase the possibility of developing this condition. They are:
- Gender – Both men and women, may develop CFS, but women are more prone than men, and thus, it becomes a risk factor.
- Age – People from different age groups have been diagnosed with CFS, but it is most common in people in the age group of 40s and 50s.
- Stress – Any physical or mental stress such as depression, grief, work pressure or a serious accident may all trigger CFS in the person.
- Genetic predisposition – Sometimes it runs in the family, and if someone has inherited that gene, then the condition may develop in the person with no apparent reason.
Some of the most common symptoms of CFS include:
- Extreme fatigue on the next day of doing any physical activity, which is referred to as Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM).
- Waking up feeling exhausted or tired, in the morning, even after hours of sleep.
- Inability to concentrate and poor memory to remember things.
- Sore throat and frequent headache.
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or the armpits.
- Difficulty doing regular activities.
There are no specific tests of how CFS is diagnosed. The doctor needs to rule out other causes or conditions that may cause long-lasting fatigue to a patient in order to conclude with CFS. Therefore, the diagnosis includes a session of questions about the medical history of the person, lifestyle, and any physical or mental stress. Doctors also run some blood tests and urine tests to be sure about the absence of other medical conditions that have similar symptoms like CFS.
Treatment of CFS varies from person to person depending upon their symptoms, other medical conditions, or the possible causes. CFS can be treated by medicines, therapies, and making lifestyle changes. Those who are suffering from muscular pain or depression may be given medication accordingly that also help CFS from aggravating. Similarly, changes in lifestyle such as maintaining a healthy diet and practicing meditation may help in providing complete nutrition to the body and reducing stress respectively.
Therapies like cognitive training and graded exercise can also be useful for some people. Cognitive training helps the person in talking with the counsellor about the cause and the possible solutions to treat their condition. Graded exercise allows the person to perform certain activities without adding to their fatigue but tweaking their cycle of inactivity. Also, knowing the fatigue test cost which is Rs. 2,499 all over India may help in diagnosing it.
Since people do not recover completely from this condition, it is advisable to consult the doctor in case simple activities cause prolonged exhaustion that does not go away even after sleep and resting.