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Chronic fatigue syndrome is commonly abbreviated as CFS and it is actually an umbrella term for a group of debilitating medical disorders. It is easily characterized by persistent fatigue which lasts for at least six months, is not caused by any exertion or other medical conditions and cannot be relieved by rest. This medical condition is also sometimes referred to as chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome, post viral fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis. The exact cause of this medical condition is still largely unknown although it is classified as a disease which affects the nervous system. There are numerous different types of physiological and psychological factors which can be held responsible for the development and maintenance of the chronic fatigue syndrome. There are no predefined methods of diagnosis for this medical condition. The first cases of chronic fatigue syndrome date back to Los Angeles in 1934, when there was an outbreak of what they referred to as atypical poliomyelitis. The first time the condition was medicinally referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome was in 1987.


Fatigue often occurs as a symptom in numerous different types of medical conditions and is considered as a fairly common thing, but the medical condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome tends to be rare. According to certain statistical data there can be as much as 3,000 cases of chronic fatigue syndrome for every 100,000 adult persons. Medicinal agencies claim that there are more than a million citizens of the United States who are affected by the chronic fatigue syndrome, but unfortunately enough, out of all those there are approximately 20 percent of the cases which are diagnosed. There are also approximately 250,000 citizens of the United Kingdom who are affected by the chronic fatigue syndrome. This medical condition may affect people from all different racial and ethnic groups, but according to statistics, people who belong to lower income groups are at a slightly increased risk of getting affected. It is also an interesting fact that Native Americans and African Americans are at a much higher risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome than the White American majority. Women are commonly affected by chronic fatigue syndrome much more often than men. The age group which gets affected the most are the people who are between 40 and 59 years of age. Adolescents and children may also get affected by the chronic fatigue syndrome, but there are much less cases than in adults.

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

The list of symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome can get quite extensive but the most common ones include respiratory problems, cardiac problems, depression, digestive disturbances, orthostatic intolerance, increased sensitivity to smells, increased sensitivity to sounds, increased sensitivity to light, muscle weakness, physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion, cognitive difficulties, headaches, sore throat, joint pain, muscle pain, unrefreshing sleep and post exertional malaise.

Treatment Options

Chronic fatigue syndrome is very hard to treat and not all patients get to experience a full recovery. The most common types of treatment options for those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome include cognitive behavioral therapy, graded exercise therapy, pacing and certain types of medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a certain form of psychological therapy which tends to be very efficient in helping patients understand their individual symptoms and develop certain strategies which would help them function normally from day to day. One of the problems associated with this method is that its effects may sometimes diminish once the therapy is completed. There are also reports on certain cases of chronic fatigue syndrome which were actually worsened by the utilization of the cognitive behavioral therapy. Graded exercise therapy is a certain type of physical therapy, which suffers from the same problem as its aforementioned counterpart. Its benefits get gradually decreased once the therapy is completed. It is very important to know that one may suffer from certain detrimental effects of graded exercise therapy if he or she does not avoid the exacerbation of symptoms which may sometimes occur during the therapy. Pacing is another method of treatment and it is actually an energy management strategy based on behavioral changes, daily activity goals and a proper balance of activities and rest. There are also certain types of medications which are sometimes used for the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome and those include immunomodulatory agents and antidepressants.

Prognosis: Recovery and Mortality

There are 5 percent of all cases of chronic fatigue syndrome which experience full recovery. Those who experience improvement of the symptoms are somewhere around 40 percent of all cases. There are only a small number of cases which can return to work after the therapy. There are also approximately 10 percent of cases which even experience worsening of the symptoms. In most cases, people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome commonly die of heart failure, certain types of cancer, or they commit a suicide.

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