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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), sometimes called chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), or myalgic encephalomyelitis, is typically marked by debilitating fatigue, neurologic abnonnalities, and persistent symptoms that suggest chronic mononucleosis.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disease that was first named in the 1980s. Although it is not a new disease, and has been referred to by other names since the 1700s, it still remains the subject of a great deal of controversy. Even now, as increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed with CFS, many people inside and outside the health professions still doubt its existence or maintain that it's a psychological ailment.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is more common in females than males and it affects all racial and ethnic groups. CFS usually strikes people between the ages of 20 and 40, but it also occurs in teens. A CFS-like illness also has been determined to occur in children younger than 12. The actual number of children and teens affected by CFS is unknown.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The cause of chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome is unknown, but researchers suspect that it may be found in HHV-6 or in other herpes viruses,enteroviruses,orretroviruses. Rising levels of antibodies to EBV, once thought to implicate EBV infection as the cause of CFIDS, are now considered a result of this disease. CFIDS may be associated with a reaction to viral illness that's complicated by dysfunctional immune response and by other factors that may include gender, age, genetic disposition, prior illness, stress, and environment.

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The characteristic symptom of CFIDS is prolonged. often overwhelming fatigue that is commonly associated with a varying complex of other symptoms. including but not limited to myalgia, arthralgia with arthritis, low-grade fever, pain, cervical adenopathy, sore throat, headache, memory deficits and sleep disturbances. To aid identification of the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a "working case definition" to group symptoms and severity.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Because the cause and nature of CFIDS are still unknown, no single test unequivocally confirms its presence. Therefore, physicians base this diagnosis on the patient's history and the CDC's criteria. Because the CDC criteria are admittedly a working concept that may not include all forms of this disease and are based on symptoms that can result from other diseases, diagnosis is difficult and uncertain.

Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

No treatment is known to cure CFIDS. Rather. treatment is symptomatic and may include tricyclic antidepressants (such as doxepin [Sinequan)), histamine- 2 blocking agents (such as dmetidine [Tagamet]), and antianxiety agents (such as alprazolam [Xanax)). In some patients. avoidance of enviromuental irritants and certain foods may help to relieve symptoms.
Experimental treatments include the antiviral agent acyclovir and selected immunomodulating agents. such as LV, gamma globulin, Ampligen, transfer factor, and others.

A healthy diet, which can minimize symptoms and general discomfort. Doctors agree that people with CFS should avoid heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and large quantities of junk food. Some people find that a registered dietitian or nutritionist can suggest menu plans to help reduce symptoms of fatigue.


Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have, or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.