Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by profound tiredness, regardless of bed rest. Its symptoms may worsen with physical or mental activity. CFS can happen suddenly and last for years. The condition affects more females than males.  

What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?

The
cause of CFS is not known.

Who is at risk for chronic fatigue syndrome?

Because the cause of CFS is not known, it’s hard to know what might put someone at risk
for getting the condition. However, certain factors are seen more often in people with
CFS. These factors include:

  • Gender.
    CFS happens up to 2 to 4 times more often in women than in men.
  • Age.
    CFS commonly affects middle-aged people, but people of any age can get it.

What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?

Symptoms of CFS often mimic the flu. These are the most common symptoms. But symptoms
may occur a bit different in each person.

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headache
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Low-grade fever
  • Depression

The symptoms of CFS may look like other medical conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is chronic fatigue syndrome
diagnosed?

CFS
diagnosis requires ruling out other possible conditions. According to the Institute of
Medicine, a CFS diagnosis requires all 3 of the following symptoms:

  • Having to
    cut back greatly on activities you did before the illness.
    Severe and chronic
    tiredness must have lasted for more than 6 months, and other health conditions have
    been ruled out. Rest does not ease these symptoms.
  • Severe
    tiredness after physical activity.
    The fatigue gets worsen after physical or
    mental stress that you could handle before the illness started.
  • Sleep that
    doesn’t refresh you.

In
addition, one of the following symptoms must be present:

  • Difficulty thinking that gets worsen under
    pressure.
  • Orthostatic intolerance. This means standing
    upright makes symptoms worse. Lying back down or elevating your feet may ease the
    symptoms but does not fully get rid of them.