Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long-term physical and mental exhaustion that sleep or rest cannot cure. Also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), the syndrome poses a number of lifestyle restrictions, including mobility issues, physical pain, difficulty concentrating, and relentless tiredness. In severe cases, CFS may render its sufferer unable to work, go to college, or socialize. Little is understood about what causes CFS, with scientific research about the syndrome and its cure ongoing. Keep reading to learn the facts about CFS.
There Are Varying Degrees of CFS
Although all forms of CFS cause feelings of extreme tiredness, the effects can range in intensity. Mild CFS means the patient may require several days off to rest, but they are still able to take care of themselves. In moderate cases, the patient will experience reduced mobility and need to take daily afternoon naps, and in extreme cases, the patient's mobility will be significantly impaired by severe joint or muscle pain, and they will have significant difficulty concentrating.
CFS Is Most Common in Women
Studies have found that women are four times more likely to suffer from CFS than men. Although a person can be diagnosed with the syndrome at any age, it is most common in those between the ages of 40 - 59.
CFS Is Rarely Diagnosed
The symptoms of mild and moderate CFS are often overlooked, as they are easily dismissed as being associated with other ailments, or mistaken for major depressive disorder. The primary symptoms of CFS are extreme tiredness, headaches, sore throat, muscle pain, and joint pain. Experts have estimated that less than 20% of CFS cases in the United States have been diagnosed.
The Syndrome Occurs in Cycles
CFS sufferers normally experience cyclical periods of wellness and illness, with months of remission with fully functioning mobility and mental alertness often passing between relapses. This may pose difficulties when patients are tempted to overdo activities that their CFS usually inhibits, such as exercising and attending social events, which can sometimes trigger or contribute to a relapse.
The Cause of CFS Remains Unclear
Scientists have found links between viral infections, such as mononucleosis (also known as glandular fever), the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), rubella, and the occurrence of CFS, although studies for this remain inconclusive. There are theories that the causes of CFS may also be genetic, hormonal, or a result of psychological trauma, though these theories remain uncertain, too. It is, however, widely accepted that diet and nutrition play no part in causing CFS.
There Is No Cure for CFS
As of yet, there is no existing prescription drug to cure CFS, most likely because there is still much to be learned about the causes of the syndrome. Diagnosed cases of CFS are usually managed according to the patient's personal experience of the condition, alongside a team of medical specialists, physiotherapists, and counselors who are allocated according to the patient's symptoms.
The changing, unpredictable, and often life-impeding symptoms of CFS can cause strain that's emotional as much as physical. It may be difficult for a patient to adjust to the loss of independence, relationship issues, and worries about the future that the syndrome can bring and, problematically, anxiety about these issues may contribute to stress levels, and thereby inhibit management of the symptoms. Luckily, there are people that can help with this; talking to loved ones, a counselor, or seeking spiritual guidance can aid the process of accepting and dealing with CFS.
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