General Illness Information
Common Name: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Medical Term: None Specified.
Description: Profound fatigue of at least 6 months duration, in the absence of other causes of fatigue. Does not resolve with bed rest. Impairs daily activity below 30% usual level for at least 6 months. Occurs mainly in adults between ages of 20 to 40 years. Twice as common in women than men.
Causes: Unknown. Immunological and viral causes have been proposed, but none have been identified.
Signs & Symptoms
- Mild fever;
- Frequent sore throat;
- Painful glands in neck and axilla;
- Unexplained muscle weakness and muscle pain;
- Prolonged fatigue;
- Generalized headaches;
- Joint aches and pains;
- Neuropsychological symptoms: Forgetfulness, excessive irritability, confusion, inability to concentrate, depression, and photophobia;
- Sleep disturbance;
- Main symptom complex initially developing over a few hours to a few days.
Diagnosis & Treatment
- Validation of the diagnosis, and education of the patient;
- General therapeutic measures, especially adequate rest;
- Symptomatic therapy;
- Experimental therapy;
- Join a local or national support group;
- Psychotherapy may be helpful for some patients;
- Be patient;
- Additional literature and information may be obtained from the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (SFIDS) Association. P.O. Box 220398, Charlotte, NC 28222-0398, (800) 442-3437.
- Medications must be individually tailored, but may include pain medicine, local injections, antidepressants, etc.;
- Herbal supplements may be very helpful, especially Ginseng and Evening Primrose Oil;
- Other experimental medication therapies are being studied.
Exercise is important. Begin a gradual program that may be just 3-5 minutes a day to start with. Increase the activity by about 20% about every 2-3 weeks. Setbacks will occur, so don’t be discouraged.
Try to maintain good nutrition, even if appetite is decreased.
Possible Complications :
None specific to the disorder. Symptoms are usually most severe during the first 6 months.
Generally very slow improvement over months or years. Full recovery is possible.