What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a mysterious disorder where the patient experiences extreme and persistent tiredness, muscle pains, and other symptoms. The patient’s fatigue does not go away quickly even with bed rest. Instead, it stays for a long time, disrupting the patient’s regular activities. This condition is poorly understood and scientists have not yet found its cause.
Also known as CFS, this disorder is difficult to diagnose. Since no test has been conducted yet, it remains a mystery among doctors. The symptoms can be very identical to other health problems which make it even harder for physicians to identify. Present treatments for this condition are aimed at the palliation of the symptoms.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue System
There is no explanation available for the main symptom of CFS. It is sometimes so intense that fatigue can last at least 6 months and bed rest doesn’t seem to help. CFS can be described through the following signs and symptoms:
After physical and mental exertion, the person may feel extremely fatigued. This exhaustion lasts up to 24 hours or even more.
- Sore throat
- Muscle and joint pains
- Problems with sleeping, insomnia
- Impaired memory
- Trouble with mental concentration
- Painful swelling of lymph nodes
These are the symptoms used to diagnose a patient. But the following are some of the reoccurring symptoms that a patient may also experience:
- Abnormally sensitive bowel
- Visual difficulties
- Trouble balancing
- Sleep hyperhidrosis or night sweat and chills
- Extreme sensitivity to certain foods, medications, smells, chemicals and noises.
- Cognitive difficulties
Doctors are profoundly careful in dismissing CFS during diagnosis because of the generality of the symptoms.
Causes of Chronic Fatigue System
Though scientists are on wide search for the answer, there is no test to determine or prove the primary cause of this illness. One possibility that researchers are holding on to is that CFS is triggered by the combination of the following:
Infections. Some cases are reported developing after the patient had a viral infection. This leads to the possibility that it is one of the main causes of CFS. This is where it gets its other term post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS).
Hormonal imbalance and fluctuation of blood pressure. CFS patients experience unnatural levels of blood pressure and imbalanced hormonal production in their hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
Immune dysfunction. Though it is not quite clear whether this factor is enough to cause the disorder, people who are affected by CFS show sign of slight dysfunction in their immune system that causes them to be susceptible to other health conditions.
Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue System
There is no medical equipment or test available to diagnose CFS, so doctors will have to carefully study the symptoms instead. The following steps are taken by the physician to cautiously determine whether or not the patient has CFS:
- Take the patient’s detailed history before carrying on a complete and accurate physical and mental health examination.
- To help the doctor eliminate other possible causes of symptoms shown, a series of laboratory tests will be prescribed. Follow-up tests may also be ordered just to make sure.
- The doctor considers the following criteria:
- The patient has fatigue for over 6 months even without vigorous physical and mental activity, is not improved by bed rest, and has just recently started.
- The patient’s tiredness is beginning to greatly disrupt regular activities.
- The patient has four or more of the these symptoms: exhaustion that lasts more than 24 hours due to physical and mental exertion, muscle pain, joint pain without swelling or colorization, sore throat, swelling of lymph nodes in the neck or armpit, problem sleeping, new type of headache experienced, and cognitive and memory impairment.
Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Graded Exercise Therapy (GET). This consists of physical activities that are gradually increased while the patient is closely monitored.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is aimed to change any negative attitude of the patient in dealing with the disorder.
Most CFS patients will show improvement especially when dealt with the right treatment. Some will take a little longer to improve.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be a mysterious disorder but scientists believe that one way or another, they will figure it out.