Feeling continuously tired may mean you are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
What exactly is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is different from the exhaustion that you experience when you indulge in vigorous physical activities and exhaustion due to other illnesses, malnutrition, low blood pressure and insufficient sleep. In this condition, the more you indulge in physical activities or utilize your mental faculties, the more exhausted you feel.
It is a very complex condition that is often difficult to diagnose in a short span of time, because a lot of factors lead to constant fatigue. Usually, doctors consider a period of six months to be sure that the condition is indeed CFS.
The problem with CFS is that it can continue for years and lead to severe physical and psychological distress.
What are the causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Women are 4 times more susceptible to CFS than men
In the United States, over 2 million people are affected by CFS and millions of others have symptoms which point strongly to CFS but are not conclusive of the condition.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a health condition, which although very profound in its manifestation, is equally intangible in its cause. Doctors have grappled with causes such as infection by human herpes virus-6 such as Epstein Barr virus, inflammation of nervous system, auto immune disease, severe stress, age, past illnesses, environmental factors and genetics.
However, there is no one major known cause for this mentally, emotionally and physically debilitating condition.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
CFS affects the body physically as well as psychologically.
- CFS can start suddenly and the onset of the condition often begins with cold, cough and flu like symptoms.
- Continuous fatigue is a mandatory symptom, which is not remedied by bed rest or deep sleep.
- The person cannot work as efficiently as he did before the illness.
- Recovery period after physical or mental exhaustion is very prolonged.
- Pain in the chest, abdomen, muscles and multiple joints, headaches of higher intensities than ever before, recurring flu like symptoms, chills, irritable bowel, diarrhea, night sweats, brain fog and shortness of breath are common indications of CFS.
- In addition, the person experiences disturbance in vision, sensitivity or allergic reactions to certain kinds of foods, chemicals and alcohol, difficulty in maintaining upright posture, nausea, dizziness, fainting and irregular heartbeat.
Psychological symptoms of CFS
- Besides physical symptoms, psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability and panic attacks are not uncommon.
- Cognitive functions are hampered and the person finds it difficult to concentrate and recollect.
CFS is diagnosed through elimination process. It is confirmed when other diseases with similar symptoms are eliminated from the list of suspicion. Conditions that are studied and need to be eliminated are dependence of drugs, autoimmune disorders, infections, muscle and nerve diseases, hormonal disorders, other chronic inherent diseases, tumors and psychological conditions.
A six month duration is considered for diagnosis, during which, at least four above mentioned symptoms need to be consistently present.
Medical tests such as white blood cell count and brain MRI can help in strengthening suspicion of CFS.
Treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome
There is no specific cure for CFS and mainly, symptomatic treatment is provided. Also, customized treatment is provided because different people are affected differently by the condition.
Treatment includes changes in lifestyle, diet, energy supplements, stress reduction therapies and preventing overexertion.