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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Introduction

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a common chronic pain disorder that causes severe fatigue that does not improve with rest. Chronic fatigue syndrome tends to get worse after exercise or mental activity. Severe or inadequately treated chronic fatigue syndrome can be disabling in some cases and result in difficulty or inability to participate in the activities of daily living, such as work, school, and home life.

It is not known exactly what causes chronic fatigue syndrome. One theory is that it develops out of a combination of factors, such as viral infection, stress, and exposure to toxins. Chronic fatigue syndrome can run in families, so genetic factors may increase the risk of developing the disorder. Chronic fatigue syndrome is most common in women, but can occur in both sexes and in all age groups and ethnic populations. Most cases of chronic fatigue syndrome occur during middle age.

Chronic fatigue syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because there is no specific test to detect it. Diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome requires running many tests to rule-out other diseases and disorders that have similar symptoms. Making a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome includes performing a complete evaluation that includes a medical history, including symptoms, and physical examination. This includes a neurological examination. A neurological exam evaluates the brain and nerves and such functions as level of consciousness, reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing. A mental health exam is also done.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include severe fatigue and other symptoms that can be similar to some viral infections. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

It is possible that a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases, such as depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and migraine. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic chronic fatigue syndrome, refer to misdiagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.

There is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, and it can be difficult to treat. However, chronic fatigue syndrome is treatable in many cases with regular medical care, monitoring of the disorder, and an individualized treatment plan. Treatment plans may need to be readjusted over time to be most effective. Treatment can include medications, specialized exercise programs, and other therapies. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. ...more »

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a syndrome that has only recently been described by the medical profession. Once controversial, it is gradually becoming accepted as a valid diagnosis by medical professionals. Typically CFS follows a viral infection (e.g. cold or viral stomach bug), and is sometimes found after mononucleosis infections. Non-specific symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion, and aches make CFS difficult to diagnose and similar to other conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and Lyme disease (among others). CFS and fibromyalgia share many common characteristics, and may be misdiagnosed as each other, and either condition is often misdiagnosed as depression. ...more »

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Symptoms

People who have chronic fatigue syndrome can experience a wide variety of symptoms, and the types and severity of symptoms can vary between individuals. Not all people will have all symptoms, and all symptoms may not occur together at the same time. Symptoms can also come and go.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is marked by severe fatigue that does not improve ...more symptoms »

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Treatments

The most effective treatment plan for chronic fatigue syndrome uses a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans are also individualized to best address the severity of chronic fatigue syndrome, the types of symptoms, a patient's age, lifestyle, medical history and other factors. Prompt diagnosis and treatment increases the chances of better symptom management.

Medications commonly used to ...more treatments »

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome may be overlooked or delayed because it can is difficult to make a diagnosis. In addition, symptoms, such as joint pain, fatigue, headaches, sore throat, and tender lymph nodes can mimic symptoms of many other diseases and conditions. These include influenza, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Related Patient Stories

Alternative Treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may include:

Rare Types of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Rare types of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

More information about causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Disease Topics Related To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Unnecessary hysterectomies due to undiagnosed bleeding disorder in women: The bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease is quite common in women, but often fails to be correctly diagnosed. Women more »

Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present in a variety of different severities. Diseases more »

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease, more »

RLS sleep disorder causing night-time leg sensations often misdiagnosed: A common but relatively unknown sleep-related disorder called Restless more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See more »

ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults. Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the more »

Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care more »

Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with an eating disorder is female. The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or have a delayed diagnosis. See misdiagnosis of more »

Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be undiagnosed in teenagers. The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression to be more »

Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression) may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms more »

Pituitary conditions often undiagnosed cause of symptoms: There are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by a pituitary disorder (see symptoms of pituitary disorders). For example, fatigue, headache, weight gain, more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis more »

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Medical research articles related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Animations

Prognosis for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Research about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Visit our research pages for current research about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treatments.

Clinical Trials for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include:

Statistics for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Broader Related Topics

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

We all get tired. Many of us at times have felt depressed. But the mystery known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not like the normal ups and downs we experience in everyday life. The early sign of this illness is a strong and noticeable fatigue that comes on suddenly and often comes and goes or never stops. You feel too tired to do normal activities or are easily exhausted with no apparent reason. Unlike the mind fog of a serious hangover, to which researchers have compared CFS, the profound weakness of CFS does not go away with a few good nights of sleep. Instead, it slyly steals your energy and vigor over months and sometimes years. (Source: excerpt from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is characterized by persistent and debilitating fatigue and additional nonspecific symptoms such as sore throat, headache, tender muscles, joint pain, difficulty thinking and loss of short-term memory. Initial symptoms mimic the flu: on physical examination, patients may have nonspecific findings such as low-grade fever and redness of the throat, but frequently no abnormalities are found. No laboratory test or panel of tests is available to diagnose CFS so the diagnosis is made solely on clinical grounds. The cause of CFS is unknown. (Source: excerpt from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: NWHIC)

Definitions of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Characterized by physical symptoms and demonstrable structural or physiological changes in which emotional factors are believed to play a major etiologic role. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Nervous breakdown (not in technical use) - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or a subtype of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Ophanet, a consortium of European partners, currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000. They list Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet


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