Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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.

Prevention: Unknown.

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.

Risk Factors


Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

  • 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.


Nothing specified.

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