Who Gets Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome can affect people of all ethnicities and ages, but is most common in people in their forties or fifties. It’s very rare in kids. A few teens do get CFS, and it affects more girls than guys.
Sometimes different people in the same family get CFS. This may be because the tendency to develop CFS is genetic.
Who Is At Risk For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Because the cause of CFS is not known, its 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 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 Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- Take along a list of all the symptoms you are experiencing in case you forget some of them during your talk with the doctor or nurse.
- Talk about how much you can do at work or school and around the house.
- Ask if there are any financial supports or services you could apply for.
- Ask for help with pain, sleep and remaining active if these are problems for you.
- Ask about what you should be eating.
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How Is Cfs Treated
Theres currently no specific cure for CFS.
Each person has different symptoms and therefore may require different types of treatment to manage the disorder and relieve their symptoms.
Work with your team of healthcare providers to create the best treatment plan for you. They can go over the possible benefits and side effects of the therapies with you.
Things No One Tells You About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Imagine feeling too exhausted to get out of bed, let alone go to work or spend time with your family. Now combine that kind of physical exhaustion with severe stomach pain, aching joints, and brain fog that makes it impossible to read a book or sustain a thought. Finally, imagine telling a doctor how you feel, and having him roll his eyes.
This is reality for many of those who suffer from the disease most know as “chronic fatigue syndrome.” There’s often little help or support available to them from the medical community or from friends and family.
“When you tell people how you feel, they say, ‘Well, I’m tired, too,'” says Carol Head, a recovered CFS sufferer and president of the Solve ME/CFS Initiativea charitable organization that funds medical research in pursuit of a cure for chronic fatigue.
Part of the problem, Head says, is that non-sufferers hear “fatigue” and think they understand what a CFS sufferer is going through. But they really don’t. “People who have endured both chemotherapy and ME/CFS say ME/CFS is even more debilitating, so ‘fatigue’ is not a good word for it,” she says.
The “ME” in ME/CFS stands for myalgic encephalomyelitisan alternate name Head and other sufferers prefer to chronic fatigue syndrome. “CFS is such a lightweight name,” she says. “The term ‘myalgic encephalomyelitis’ has actually been around longer, and it has the advantage of sounding like the serious, real disease that this is.”
It’s often debilitating.
It goes beyond chronic fatigue.
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What Is The Latest Research On Me/cfs
Today, we have a better understanding of ME/CFS, but researchers are still searching for the cause. ME/CFS is sometimes seen in members of the same family, perhaps because of a genetic link. Researchers are also testing a variety of treatments for ME/CFS, including anti-viral medications and medications that affect the immune system.
Researchers also are looking at ways to help health care providers identify and diagnose ME/CFS more quickly. HHS currently supports a study led by the Institute of Medicine to recommend improved and updated criteria to help physicians make a diagnosis of ME/CFS. The IOM’s recommendations may also guide future research.
Severe Or Very Severe Cfs/me
If you have severe or very severe CFS/ME, you will need more frequent reviews and increased support and care. You should also be referred:
- To a physiotherapist or occupational therapist working in an CFS specialist team for support on developing energy management plans.
- To a dietician with a special interest in CFS.
The process and pace of any CBT should be adjusted to meet your needs. This might include shorter, less frequent sessions and longer-term goals.
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Blood Flows To The Brain
Another research group found that long Covid may significantly reduce the amount of blood that reaches the brain, a finding that has was also seen in patients with a related chronic condition, ME/CFS, before the pandemic. Keller
The evidence for reduced blood flows to the brain first surfaced in 1996 and has waxed and waned over the years. The brain blood flow question was largely resolved when Visser/Van Campen/Rowe, using a newer, more accurate technique, found reduced brain blood flows in virtually everyone with ME/CFS, including people who did not meet the criteria for orthostatic intolerance.
Further studies indicated that after tilt table testing, blood flows to the brain take much longer to return to normal in ME/CFS, that blood volume a crucial aspect of circulatory function is low, that in severe ME/CFS even sitting or mild tilting can result in significantly reduced brain blood flows, and that tilt-table testing produces similar effects in long-COVID patients.
Medows eye-opening 2014 study demonstrated the dramatic impact reduced oxygen flows to the brain may be having in ME/CFS. When Medow used phenylephrine in ME/CFS patients with orthostatic intolerance to increase blood flows to their brains, their cognitive issues and symptoms completely disappeared during the dreaded tilt table test.
What Is The Treatment For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, although symptoms can be self-managed with support and advice. When CFS/ME is suspected, you should be given individual advice about managing your symptoms. This advice will include:
- Not to use more energy than you feel you have. Try to manage your daily activity and do not ‘push through’ your symptoms.
- Rest and convalesce as you need to. This might mean making changes to your daily routine, including work, school and other activities.
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet, with adequate fluid intake.
You should be referred to an CFS/ME specialist team to confirm your diagnosis and develop a care and support plan.
Children and young people with suspected CFS/ME should be referred to a paediatrician for further assessment and investigation before referral to a paediatric CFS specialist team to confirm the diagnosis and develop a care and support plan.
You should be referred to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist working in an CFS specialist team if you:
- Have difficulties caused by reduced physical activity or mobility.
- Feel ready to progress your physical activity beyond your current activities of daily living.
- Would like to incorporate a physical activity or exercise programme into managing your CFS/ME.
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How Can I Help My Child
To help your child cope with the emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Encourage your child to keep a daily diary to identify times when he or she has the most energy and help plan activities for these times.
- Have your doctor plan an exercise program to maintain strength at whatever level is possible. This can help your child feel better physically and emotionally.
- Help your child to recognize and express feelings, such as sadness, anger, and frustration. It’s OK to grieve the loss of energy.
- Get support from family and friends because emotional health is important when coping with a chronic health problem.
- Allow more time for your child to do things, especially activities that take concentration or physical exertion.
Is There Any Treatment
There is currently no cure for CFS. The therapies for this disorder are directed at symptom relief. It is important to maintain good health by eating a balanced diet and getting adequate rest, exercising regularly without causing more fatigue, and pacing oneself because too much stress can aggravate the symptoms of CFS. Working with a physician to develop a program that provides the greatest benefits also will help in reducing frustration with the illness.
Non-pharmacological therapies include acupuncture, aquatic therapy, chiropractic, cranial-sacral, light exercise, massage, self-hypnosis, stretching, tai chi, therapeutic touch and yoga. Certain psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy also have shown promise for facilitating patient coping and for alleviating some of the distress associated with CFS.
In pharmacological therapy there is a variety of medications that can relieve specific symptoms. It is important to begin with low doses and to escalate the dosage gradually as necessary.
Some CFS patients may also find it therapeutic to meet with other people who have this illness, and this can be accomplished by joining a local CFS support group. Support groups are not appropriate for everyone, and may actually add to their stress rather than relieving it.
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Other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
Other symptoms that may be associated with CFS/ME include:
- Dizziness, palpitations, fainting, nausea on standing or sitting upright from a lying position.
- Increased sensitivity to temperature, causing increased sweating, chills, hot flushes or feeling very cold.
- Twitching and other abnormal uncontrolled body movements.
- Flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, tender glands, nausea, chills or muscle aches.
- Intolerance to alcohol, or to certain foods or chemicals.
- Increased sensitivities, including to light, sound, touch, taste and smell.
- Pain, including pain on touch, muscle pain, headaches, eye pain, tummy pain, or joint pain.
Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The main feature of ME/CFS is a type of exhaustion known as post-exertional malaise, crash or payback. This means having flu-like symptoms after exercise and not having enough energy for daily activities.
Research shows that people with ME/CFS have a different physiological response to activity or exercise from other people. This includes abnormal exhaustion after any form of exertion, and a worsening of other symptoms. The response may be delayed, perhaps after 24 hours. Depending on the amount and type of exercise, it may result in post-exertional malaise for a few days, or serious relapses lasting weeks, months or even years.
- problems with thinking, concentrating, memory loss, vision, clumsiness, muscle twitching or tingling
- disrupted sleep
- sore throat, tender lymph nodes and a flu-like feeling
- inability to cope with temperature changes.
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Who Develops Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome can affect anyone. It is estimated that CFS affects an average of between one and five people in every 1,000 in the UK. The true figure may be higher because some people with CFS/ME are not diagnosed.
It is about three times as common in women as in men. The most common age for it to develop sometime between the early twenties to mid-forties. In children the most common age for it to develop is 13-15 years but it can develop at an earlier age.
How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed
CFS diagnosis depends on two criteria:
A specific treatment for CFS has yet to be proven effective. Vitamin supplements and medicines have some benefit. Many treatments just relieve the symptoms of CFS.
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Its Hiding In There Somewhere
Symptoms of CFS vary for each person and according to severity. If you suspect that you have CFS, understanding all the potential symptoms is the best approach. This way you can bring them to your doctors attention and get tests to rule out other conditions.
It may take time to get an official diagnosis, but you will be on the right path and can address each symptom as it occurs.
Fatigue is obviously the most common symptom, but it must have lasted for 6 months at least before it can be considered CFS. In addition to this continued fatigue, you must also have at least four other symptoms.
The possible symptoms include:
Rest does not alleviate the fatigue
Loss of memory or poor concentration
Unrefreshed feeling each time you wake up
Frequent sore throat
Swollen or tender lymph nodes
Extreme fatigue after physical and mental activities
CFS can also affect people in cycles, meaning some of the time they feel perfectly fine. There are periods of normality followed by periods of extreme fatigue, which can be confusing and makes diagnosis difficult.
Sometimes symptoms can disappear completely , but it is possible for them to come back.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There’s a long list of possible symptoms that someone with fatigue syndrome can have. The most common ones include:
- severe fatigue, which can make it hard to get out of bed and do normal daily activities
- sleep problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, or not having a refreshing sleep
- symptoms getting worse after physical or mental effort
- symptoms or dizziness that get worse after standing up or sitting upright from a lying down position
- problems with concentration and memory
- headaches and stomachaches
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Q When Should You See A Doctor For Your Fatigue
A. Talk to yourprovider as soon as you or those around you experience any amount of concern.Simply expressing the problem should lead to a discussion about thetopic.
Your provider will likelywant to evaluate you to determine the severity of your symptoms and potentialcauses. Typically, the evaluation starts with a thorough history and physicalexam.
Doctors also use specificquestions to measure how tired you feel. Terms like feeling tired,experiencing fatigue, having lack of energy and feeling especially sleepyare often used interchangeably. However, its important for your provider todistinguish between them to figure out the cause.
Based on your responses,your doctor can figure out the appropriate approach for diagnosing you. You mayneed additional testing, such as lab work, imaging or sleep studies, todetermine the cause. Once your provider gets to the bottom of the fatigueissue, they can work with you on how to solve it.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not known. There are various theories but none has been proved. A popular theory is that a viral infection may trigger the condition. It is well known that tiredness is a symptom that can persist for a short time following certain viral infections. For example, infection with the glandular fever virus or the influenza virus can cause fatigue for several weeks after other symptoms have gone. However, most people recover within a few weeks from the tiredness that follows known viral infections.
Even if a viral infection is a trigger of CFS, it is not clear why symptoms persist when there is no evidence of persisting infection. Also, the symptoms of many people with CFS do not start with a viral infection.
Factors that are thought to contribute to some people developing CFS include:
- Inherited genetic susceptibility .
- Exhaustion and mental stress.
- A traumatic event such as bereavement, divorce or redundancy.
It is hoped that research will clarify the cause of CFS in the future.
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How Do I Know If I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
As the pandemic continues, some COVID-19 survivors are experiencing a variety of health issues such as severe exhaustion, headaches, muscle pain and cognitive issues. These experiences have some medical professionals believing there may be a connection between COVID-19 and chronic fatigue syndrome .
We know that viruses have been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome, said Syed Zaidi, MD, a family medicine provider with OSF Medical Group.The diagnosis is more than six months of profound chronic fatigue, so do we have patients coming near that six-month point? They got this early and are just recovered from COVID, but their life still isnt where it used to be and that is where this conversation is coming from.
How Is Me/cfs Diagnosed
Because many symptoms of ME/CFS are also symptoms of other illnesses or side effects of medicine, your doctor will need to do physical exams and tests to help determine if you have ME/CFS. There are no standard lab tests to diagnose ME/CFS.
If you think you may have ME/CFS, see your doctor. Your doctor may:
- Ask you about your physical and mental health.
- Do a physical exam.
- Order lab tests based on your symptoms, such as urine and blood tests, which will tell your doctor if something other than ME/CFS might be causing your symptoms.
- Order tests that check for problems found in people with ME/CFS.
- Classify you as having ME/CFS if:
- You have the main symptoms of ME/CFS, including extreme fatigue or exhaustion that does not go away and that prevents you from doing the things you want and need to do for you and your family exhaustion that comes after mental or physical exercise sleep problems and pain AND
- You have had the extreme fatigue and other symptoms for 6 months or longer AND
- You and your doctor cannot find another explanation for your symptoms.
The process to make a final diagnosis of ME/CFS can take a long time, so try to be patient. It is usually best to develop a relationship and follow up often with one doctor so that he or she can get to know you and see how you respond to treatment over time.
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