Even though chronic fatigue syndrome is a poorly understood and lacks any definitive treatment it is emerging as one of the most dominant health disorders of our time. Chronic fatigue is reported by 20 percent of all patients seeking medical care and is associated with many other well known medical conditions. The first of many signs of chronic fatigue is intractable fatigue lasting more than 6 months and not reversed by sleep.
Fatigue is a slowly progressing, largely invisible symptom and like pain, is a warning sign that something is affecting the body. It can be a symptom of many illnesses such as infections or psychological disorders. In many cases the signs of chronic fatigue are worsened with physical or mental activity.
Many people liken chronic fatigue syndrome to a flu-like condition that drains their energy for weeks and months on end. It can also be exacerbated by an actual viral illness or a dysfunction of the immune system. Women are diagnosed with chronic fatigue 2 to 4 times as often as men but it is unclear whether it affects women more frequently or if they just report it to their doctors more then men do.
This is a complicated disorder characterized as stated earlier by extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest and worsens with physical or mental activity. Confusion, poor concentration, and forgetfulness are among some of the signs of chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition people previously healthy and full of energy may experience a variety of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, weakness and headaches as well as difficulty concentrating and painful joints, muscles and lymph nodes. People with chronic fatigue syndrome exhibit signs and symptoms similar to those of most common viral infections.
Symptoms can also include weakness that interferes with daily living by up to 50% for some people. Unlike flu (influenza) symptoms, which usually subside in a few days or weeks, the signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can last for months or years, causing a marked restriction in normal daily activities.
Currently there is no specific diagnostic test for chronic fatigue nor is there a proven treatment regimen. Treatment is aimed at relieving the more obvious symptoms and restoring the patient to some level of pre-existing function and well-being. These treatments have been palliative at best and are based on trial and error application of what seems to work and what doesn’t. Doctor’s aim to relieve the symptoms and restore the patient to some level of pre-existing function and well-being.
Chronic fatigue is a severe, debilitating disorder which can affect anyone. If you or someone you know is exhibiting the signs of chronic fatigue syndrome then a visit to the doctor is the first place to start to rule out other illnesses that may be contributing to the symptoms that are experienced.