Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Most people who have chronic fatigue syndrome are successful and function at a high level until the disorder begins, usually abruptly, often following a stressful event. The main symptom is fatigue that usually lasts at least 6 months and is severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Severe fatigue is present even on awakening and persists throughout the day. The fatigue often worsens with physical exertion or during periods of psychologic stress. However, physical evidence of muscle weakness or of joint or nerve abnormalities is absent. Extreme fatigue may begin during or after recovery from an illness that resembles a viral infection, with a fever, runny nose, and tender or painful lymph nodes. However, in many people, fatigue begins without any such preceding illness.
Other symptoms that may occur are difficulty concentrating and sleeping, sore throat, headache, joint pains, muscle pains, and abdominal pain. Depression is common, particularly when symptoms are severe or worsening. Symptoms often overlap with those of fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia is characterized by poor sleep, fatigue, mental cloudiness, and widespread aching and stiffness in soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Poor sleep, stress, strains… read more , a possibly related disorder.
Causes Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Despite considerable research, the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome remains unknown. Controversy exists as to whether there is a single cause or many causes and whether the cause is physical or mental, but either way the symptoms are very real to the person.
Some researchers believe the syndrome ultimately will prove to have several causes, including genetic predisposition and exposure to microbes, toxins, and other physical and emotional factors.
What Is The Outlook For Someone With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The long-term outlook varies quite a bit. There may be times when your symptoms are not too bad and other times when they flare up and become worse. However, many people improve over time and some recover well. Children and younger people have a better rate of full recovery. Early diagnosis and treatment may lessen the impact of the illness. The important thing to remember is that this is not a progressive or life-threatening disease and that for many people full recovery is possible.
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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.
What Complications Are Associated With Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/chronic Fatigue Syndrome
For some people, the fatigue associated with ME/CFS makes activities of daily living very difficult or even impossible. Research shows that only half of all people diagnosed with ME/CFS work full-time or part-time jobs.
ME/CFS causes significant depression in many people living with the condition. If you experience depression, talk with your doctor â effective treatments are available.
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The Nuclear Option: The Me/cfs And Fm Symptom Thread
That didnt work? Pray for them, they need help. Promise them that the agony is almost over, and then go to the nuclear option: the symptom description thread . This option is not recommended for children, the fragile or people prone to depression. They may never look at you the same again but they will get a good sense of what ME/CFS and/or FM can be like.
The Multiple Sclerosis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study
Theyre mumbling that HIV/AIDS is quite treatable? I think they would agree that multiple sclerosis is not. Wouldnt they, like anyone, quail at the idea of having MS?
Hit them with a study showing that multiple sclerosis patients were twice as functional, experienced considerably less pain and had greatly increased vitality compared to people with ME/CFS All this in a disease known for the high rates of fatigue it produces.
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Mental Health Support And Me/cfs
ME/CFS is not a psychological disorder. However, living with a chronic illness is challenging, especially one that involves missing out on normal life activities, and this may lead to mental health problems like anxiety or depression.
Speaking with a qualified mental health professional who understands the challenges of living with ME/CFS can be very helpful. They can help with things such as coping with changes to schooling, employment or social activities, and symptoms such as difficulty with sleep or pain. With the availability of Medicare rebates for telehealth, many mental health practitioners now offer remote consultations which makes healthcare more accessible for those who are housebound or bedbound with ME/CFS.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Symptoms of CFS often mimic the flu. The following are the most common symptoms of CFS. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Low-grade fever
The symptoms of CFS may look like other medical conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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Me/cfs Is Not A Somatization Disorder
Somatization disorders occur when a person misidentifies psychiatric symptoms for physical ones. The high levels of mood disorders present in ME/CFS and its many symptoms have sparked efforts by psychiatrists to label the disease as a somatization disorder.
A 2019 study which assessed the effects of having a comorbid disorder such as fibromyalgia or a mood disorder on the symptoms associated with ME/CFS attempted to clear up that issue. Since mood disorders have a multiplier effect on somatization disorders the researchers determined if the presence of mood disorders (or comorbid disorders such as exacerbated the symptoms associated with ME/CFS.
Because mood disorders did not exacerbate the symptoms associated with ME/CFS but have a comorbid disease did, the researchers determined that ME/CFS is not somatization disorder and is not closely allied with mood disorder but that it is closely allied with diseases like FM and irritable bowel syndrome . The increased rate of mood disorders in ME/CFS is most likely simply the result of having a difficult, chronic illness.
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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Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no single test for diagnosing CFS. Care providers usually must consider many diagnostic factors and the results of several tests to rule out other conditions, such as:
- Sleep disorders
- Medical conditions like anemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, IBS
- Mood disorders and other mental health problems, e.g. depression and anxiety
Making matters more complicated, many of the above conditions tend to be comorbid with CFS. That is, they exist simultaneously and have a synergistic effect .
To be diagnosed with CFS, symptoms must last for 6 months, be of new onset, and not be alleviated by rest.
Am I Just Tired Or Is It More Than That
Everyone experiences stressful or exhausting periods in life, such as dealing with big changes, losses, childbirth, illness or injury, being under a lot of pressure or experiencing times of uncertainty. These experiences can cause both changes to your mental and physical status that make you feel more tired than usual. But often this condition will improve over time, when there is a period of relief or those uncertainties start to unfold into answers.
But for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, the relief doesnt seem to come. If you feel as though youre unable to engage in your work and home life like you used to, and that your consistent tiredness has lasted longer than 6 months, its worth talking to your provider about chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you dont have a diagnosis of ME/CFS, you can try adjusting your diet and lifestyle habits to sleep better at night. Put these ideas into practice:
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How Is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed
Your doctor diagnoses ME/CFS by performing a mental and physical examination. Doctors will ask about your medical history and order blood and urine tests to check for infection. In many cases, doctors refer people with suspected ME/CFS to other specialists to rule out other illnesses that could be causing symptoms.
For your doctor to diagnose ME/CFS, you must have these 3 symptoms:
- Severe fatigue lasting at least 6 months that does not improve with rest or sleep
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fatigue that gets worse after mental or physical exercise
Additionally, you must have at least 1 of the following symptoms:
- Orthostatic intolerance
Preventing And Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
You can reduce the likelihood youll develop CFS by taking care of your health, sleeping enough and avoiding infections.
If youre diagnosed with CFS, improving your sleep, treating any mood disorders and managing pain can help. Physical therapy can help some people, and cognitive therapy can help if you have trouble concentrating. CFS is rarely fatal, and some people recover spontaneously.
Each person is different, so it is important to learn your limits and pace yourself with exercise and any activity, Dr. Hsu said. Trying to push yourself can cause exhaustion and make your symptoms worse.
Theres a lot of misinformation about treatments for CFS. Antibiotics, special diets, vitamin supplements and steroids have not shown consistent benefit, Dr. Hsu said.
There is hope for better treatments for CFS in the future, Dr. Hsu said. And since people recovering from COVID-19 sometimes develop CFS, there are new opportunities to learn about the disease.
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Similar Disorders
Chronic fatigue syndrome encompasses a wide range of symptoms that affect most systems in the body, so doctors may easily confuse it for another disorder. Examples of the many conditions that may cause similar symptoms include anemia, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cancer, celiac disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Chronic fatigue syndrome may look especially similar to hypersomnia, narcolepsy, fibromyalgia, depression, and obstructive sleep apnea.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue
Among the symptoms are severe fatigue that comes from work, physical activity, shopping or something as simple as showering. Other symptoms include sleep problems and muscle pain and aches.
Fatigue is a vague symptom. It could be coming from a lot of different things, Dr. Zaidi said. We have to properly investigate how long its been occurring, and rule out secondary causes. Could it be sleep apnea, depression, a thyroid problem, could it be anemic? Those are to name a few.
Dr. Zaidi recommends talking to your doctor about your symptoms and have the appropriate bloodwork done to eliminate other causes.
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About Author: Alex Rusciano
Alex Rusciano is a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where he has worked since January 2016. A Michigan native, he is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in journalism. Previously, he worked as a radio news reporter in Iowa and for 89.9-FM WCBU in Peoria. He lives in Peoria with his wife and their pets. In his free time he likes to read, run and bake. He freely admits that freshly-brewed coffee is his greatest weakness.
How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Treated
Treatment is determined by your healthcare provider and based on:
- Your overall health and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
- Medicine, including corticosteroids, antidepressants, and others
- Light-intensity aerobic exercise
- Dietary supplements and herbal preparations
- Psychotherapy and supportive counseling
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Articles On Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Thereâs no simple blood test or X-ray to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome â also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis . And many of the symptoms of the illness — deep tiredness, unrelieved by rest or sleep, feeling worse after physical or mental exertion, trouble concentrating, feeling worse after standing and remaining on oneâs feet and other symptoms– are also seen in other conditions, too, making the diagnosis of ME/CFS more difficult.
Getting Older And Me/cfs
There is very little information on getting older and ME/CFS, however people can develop ME/CFS at any age. Additionally, all of the strategies such as pacing to reduce PEM and managing symptoms still apply. As people age, other problems with their health may also arise, so discussing any new symptoms with their doctor important.
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How Can Parents Help
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 they have the most energy and help plan activities for these times.
- 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, or break down activities into smaller steps, especially activities that take concentration or physical effort.
- Work with your childs teachers and school administrators to adjust their workload so that it fits within the limits of what your child can tolerate.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , chronic fatigue syndrome affects up to 2.5 million people in the United States, although many more remain undiagnosed. Anyone adults, children, adolescents can get CFS, but its most common between the ages of 40 and 60. Women are more likely than men to be impacted by CFS.
According to Dr. Zaidi, there is no test to diagnose CFS. Some of the possible causes are infections, changes to your immune system, genetics and stress.
Basically, it is an immune response to what we know, Dr. Zaidi said.
Anything that stimulates a response to stress can cause CFS. That could be a bacterial or viral infection, a prolonged illness or prolonged hospitalization.
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Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Your Symptoms
Since chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, it is helpful to come prepared to your doctors appointment. Think back to when your symptoms first started, and whether they may be linked to a stressful event or an illness. Make a note of all the symptoms you have experienced, even if they do not seem directly related to chronic fatigue syndrome. This can help your doctor rule out other conditions.
You may also want to prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome tends to focus on managing symptoms through medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Tell your doctor about your preferences regarding activity levels, so they can help establish a treatment plan that works for you. They may need to refer you to specialists for more targeted treatment of certain symptoms.
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How Is Cfs Diagnosed
CFS is a very challenging condition to diagnose.
According to the Institute of Medicine, as of 2015, CFS occurs in about 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans. Its estimated, however, that 84 to 91 percent have yet to receive a diagnosis.
There are no medical tests to screen for CFS. Its symptoms are similar to many other conditions. Many people with CFS dont look sick, so doctors may not recognize that they indeed have a health condition.
In order to receive a CFS diagnosis, your doctor will rule out other potential causes and review your medical history with you.
Theyll confirm that you at least have the core symptoms previously mentioned. Theyll also ask about the duration and severity of your unexplained fatigue.
Ruling out other potential causes of your fatigue is a key part of the diagnosis process. Some conditions with symptoms that resemble those of CFS include:
- severe obesity
- sleep disorders
Because of the similarities between symptoms of CFS and many other conditions, its important to not self-diagnose. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They can work with you to get relief.
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What Does The Person With Chronic Fatigue Go Through
Here are few possible symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome:
What Else Could It Be
Many people who have ME/CFS have other conditions, too. If you get treated for those, it might also improve your chronic fatigue.
ME/CFS can look a lot like âmonoâ , Lyme disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, or depression. It affects about 2.5 million Americans, but experts believe only about 20% are diagnosed.
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Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Fibromyalgia
ME/CFS and fibromyalgia are both diagnoses of exclusion, which means:
- They dont have objective lab or imaging tests.
- Other possible conditions must be ruled out.
- Multiple factors must be interpreted to come up with an answer.
This process can take a long time. You may have to push your healthcare provider to keep searching or to give you a referral.