Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex health complaint that leads to a feeling of constant fatigue or exhaustion.
It has a negative impact on day-to-day life and even with proper rest and a good night’s sleep the complaint is still persistent. Plus, the patient is likely to feel worse by engaging in mental or physical activity.
Even thought CFS should be regarded as a serious health condition that can lead to disability and long-term illness, there is still a great chance of full recovery over time, especially for the younger generation.
Who is affected?
A health disorder like CFS has the potential to impact the life of nearly everyone, although there are a higher number of recorded cases in women compared to men.
The most common time-frame to experience CFS is in people aged in their 20’s and 40’s. Plus, there is a lower risk of children (aged 13 to 15) experiencing this condition.
How it impacts the quality of life
For many people, chronic fatigue syndrome can vary from a mild or moderate feeling of exhaustion. But, for nearly 25% of patients, the effect on the health is quite severe with the most noticeable symptoms.
The impact of this disorder is split between:
Mild: A mild case of CFS usually needs nothing more than rest with time off work. In most instances, it is possible self-care for the duration of the illness.
Moderate: In the case of CFS being diagnosed as moderate there are more noticeable symptoms that can have a real impact on the patient’s day-to-day life.
It can lead to difficulties with proper sleep and no longer able to maintain a regular sleep pattern, more sleep may be needed during the day, and there is the likelihood of experiencing issues with reduced mobility.
Severe: while it is possible to continue with basic day-to-day tasks like brushing the teeth in the morning, the more complex things are a lot harder because it becomes very difficult to concentrate. Plus, the ability to move about is significantly reduced.
Why it happens
It is not completely understood what causes chronic fatigue syndrome – although there are a variety of real suggestions, including:
- A bacterial or viral infection
- Difficulties with the immune system that progress to other areas of the body
- Issues with hormones not being in balance
- Serious cases of emotional trauma, stress, or other psychiatric problems
- Can impact simply because of a person’s genes with this condition often common in families
There is no simple test that can be performed to detect the early signs of CFS. Plus, many of the symptoms related to this disorder are quite common.
For instance, a person suffering with rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia can have afflictions that are relatively the same.
An initial sign includes not being able to perform normally; this is usually over a period of 6 months.
After this time-frame has passed, there are other symptoms that the doctor can start to look for, such as those related to problems sleeping, joint pain and abdominal pain.
Many people have this disorder, but aren’t aware
On average, nearly 2.5 million people are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome at any one time. But at least 80% of those that suffer from this disorder are experiencing the symptoms without even realizing or being diagnosed. The most reported time to experience CFS is in the region of the mid 30’s.
It is connected to inflammation
Even though the underlying causes that relate to CFS aren’t well known, it is still believed to be associated with inflammation in significant ways.
Just by walking around at home there is the potential to trigger the onset of inflammation, but it is difficult to determine what is causing this unwanted inflammation response.
One area that is being considered as an initial symptom is viral infections and a patient starts with flu-like symptoms that gradually get worse over time until it becomes the full debilitating disease.
It can easily appear and disappear
There is the risk of some people suffering from CFS more than once in their life. It is possible for chronic fatigue syndrome to appear in the 20s-30s, only for it to clear up, but will unfortunately return again later in the person’s life. A reason for it to reemerge in women is because of the menopause.
Many doctors lack knowledge of this disorder
This type of disease isn’t very well understood and doesn’t get much attention of discussion in the medical curricula.
Clearly, this can make it a lot more difficult for the patient in search of treatment or answers.
Even though this is a condition that is seeing more recognition in the medical environment, but there are still plenty of doctors that aren’t up-to-date on the latest treatment options or how to spot the disease.
No FDA approved treatments
Even though there are early signs of treatment for the person with chronic fatigue syndrome, none of those have received approval by the FDA.
The research and clinical trials related to CFS are quite limited. Because of this, there are presently no drug treatments available to the patient with this disease.
The only option the doctor has to assist the potential is to treat a specific element, such as fatigue or pain, with a medication that has received approved for those particular symptoms. It isn’t possible to treat the patient for the entire condition.
While there are likely to some new autoimmune and antiviral drugs in the future that may give the desirable results, there isn’t anything that is immediately available.
Self control and monitoring
Many sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome are better able to control the disorder and improve their life by carefully restricting and monitoring their day-to-day activities.
By preserving energy related to mental and physical activities, it is possible to be happier and more productive throughout the day.
An activity tracker or watch can help with this type of self control and monitoring.