Facts About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you have suffered prolonged exhaustion from overwork, you may worry that you have chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS. This is much more serious than simply being overly tired and cannot be treated by simply resting more.
You may notice a sudden fatigue that prevents you from participating in physical and mental activities that you once enjoyed. Typically adults in their 40s and 50s and women, in particular, are susceptible to CFS.
What Causes CFS?
Doctors don’t have a conclusive answer for this. You could be born with a predisposition for the disease. For instance, people with CFS also seem to have compromised immune systems – but does one cause the other?
CFS is also often accompanied by imbalanced hormones. It might develop after you think you’ve recovered from a viral infection. Lastly, if you are inactive, overweight, or under a lot of stress, you have a higher risk than those who do not have any other factors.
This disorder has a number of unique indicators that don’t occur with general fatigue. Your doctor will check to see that you meet two specific criteria, which include a number of symptoms not usually associated with extreme mental or physical tiredness.
The Two Criteria of CFS
1. Chronic Fatigue for at Least Six Months
First, your doctor will rule out any other diseases. Because of the possible variety of causes and lack of CFS treatment options, he or she will want to make sure that any other conditions you might have are treated first. If you have experienced chronic fatigue for six months or more, and there are no indications of other problems, the first criterion is satisfied.
2. Four Concurrent Symptoms for Six Months
Along with the prolonged fatigue, you must also have repeatedly experienced four of the following symptoms during that six-month-or-longer period (and not before then) to receive a formal diagnosis:
- Significant loss of concentration or short-term memory.
- A sore throat.
- Tender lymph nodes.
- Muscle or multi-joint pain (unaccompanied by the usual swelling and redness).
- Headaches that are more severe or follow a different pattern than usual.
- Continued fatigue after sleep.
- A feeling of debility after exerting yourself that lasts longer than 24 hours.
Treatments for The Symptoms
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure, so any regimen your doctor suggests will be to alleviate your CFS symptoms only. This does not, however, mean that you cannot get better. Some people are able to improve enough to resume normal activity and even go back to work, while others may have renewed symptoms that occur between periods of remission.
Some of the treatments your doctor may prescribe include:
- eating a balanced diet.
- getting enough sleep (this might include a prescription sleep aid, if you cannot rest well enough on your own).
- starting an exercise program that will not cause you more fatigue.
- taking antidepressants, if your CFS is accompanies by clinical depression.
- natural therapies, such as massage, tai chi, or yoga.
Keep in mind that prevention is always better than the cure. Find out of you are living a lifestyle that puts you more at risk and take appropriate action.