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What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder that causes patients to feel extreme fatigue without any other underlying medical condition. While the condition may become worse as the result of rigorous physical or mental activity, it does not improve with rest. In many patients, the disorder can be debilitating. While there is currently no cure, there are treatments that provide adequate relief from symptoms.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue?

The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is currently unknown. Theories regarding the potential cause include everything from psychological stress to viral infections. Hormonal imbalances and immune system problems could also be to blame for some cases of chronic fatigue syndrome. Many doctors and experts in the field believe that a combination of factors causes it. Specific risk factors such as age, sex, and lifestyle may make some individuals more likely to develop the condition. Because the exact cause is unknown, no single test can be used to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. Instead, patients often must undergo numerous examinations and diagnostic tests to rule out other potential causes for their symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue?

Fatigue is the most significant symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome, but there several other symptoms that have been officially linked to the condition. These additional symptoms include a sore throat, poor memory or concentration, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits or neck, unexplained muscle pain, headache, pain that moves between joints without redness or swelling, unrefreshing sleep, and extreme feelings of exhaustion that last for more than 24 hours after engaging in mental or physical exercise. Because many of these symptoms can also be associated with other illnesses, psychological disorders, or infections, it is essential to seek medical treatment for them if they are persistent or excessive.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue

When left untreated, chronic fatigue syndrome can cause additional problems in a patient's day to day life. It can easily lead to depression, social isolation, and increased absences from work. Before diagnosing a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome, doctors first need to rule out mental health issues, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions. Reaching this diagnosis also requires that the patient experience chronic fatigue in combination with at least four of the other symptoms of the disorder for a minimum of six months.

Managing Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue syndrome may be managed through antidepressants or sleeping pills. Doctors may also recommend psychological counseling in combination with a simple exercise program that becomes more intense over time as the patient's energy builds.