About This Condition
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is disabling fatigue lasting more than six months that reduces activity by more than half. CFS is a poorly understood disease involving many body systems. No single cause of CFS has been identified, therefore, it is diagnosed by symptoms and by ruling out other known causes of fatigue by a healthcare practitioner.
Suggested causes include chronic viral infections, food allergy, adrenal gland dysfunction, and many others. None of these have been convincingly documented in more than a minority of sufferers. In some people there is also difficulty sleeping, swollen lymph nodes, and/or mild fever. When there is muscle soreness, fibromyalgia may be the actual problem. Although CFS is considered a modern diagnosis, it may have existed for centuries under other names, such as “the vapors,” neurasthenia, “effort syndrome” (diagnosed in World War I veterans), hypoglycemia, and chronic mononucleosis.
In addition to fatigue, there may also be muscle pain, joint pain not associated with redness or swelling, short-term memory loss, and an inability to concentrate. Some people with chronic fatigue syndrome also experience difficulty sleeping, swollen lymph nodes, and/or mild fever.
Some healthcare providers recommend a combination of lifestyle changes (aerobic exercise, healthful diet, and stress reduction), light therapy, and psychological counseling.