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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome, shortly known as CFS, represents the common name that actually refers to a group of medical conditions which are described through persistent fatigue as well as other symptoms that last a minimum of three months in adolescents and children and six months in adults. The main differentiation between other types of fatigue and the one that characterizes this syndrome is that it doesn’t appear as a result from another disease, nor is it relieved by extended periods of rest.

Even though it was initially described as being a disease “resembling poliomyelitis,” it wasn’t until June 2006 that was recognized as a serious illness by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the term was first used in medical literature in the year 1987, its definition was linked to the similarities with another condition called “chronic active Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection” which didn’t present any EBV evidence as a cause.

As far as the susceptibility of people towards this syndrome cause, it appears that all racial and ethnic groups are prone to develop it, but those that have lower income and a worse lifestyle overall appear to have an increased chance of occurrence.


So far, the causes behind CFS cannot be generally stated since there is no conclusive evidence implied. On the other hand, scientists are trying to discover the causes behind this condition by focusing on the relationship between the immune system, toxins, stress, activation of latent viruses, and the central nervous system.

There is some evidence which points out that a possible explanation would be the presence of a virus like human herpes virus-6 or Epstein-Barr, but there isn’t sufficient information to support these statements, hence further observance and tests are required. Other researchers suggest that it may be determined by an inflammation that appears along the immune system which may be type of immune process or response.

Furthermore, other factors including genetics, prior illnesses, environmental influences, or age may also affect its onset and may lead to an increased possibility of occurrence, particularly when the individual is also emotionally unstable and doesn’t have a proper diet, or sleeping and exercising schedule.

Signs & Symptoms

The most common symptom of this syndrome is represented by an enhanced tiredness that expands over three months in children and adolescents and six in adults and doesn’t seem to be cured through extended periods of sleep. In most situations, this fatigue is viewed as mandatory for diagnosing this medical condition.

Besides this, there are other symptoms that may either evolve in time or appear suddenly in patients who suffer from CFS. Within the most frequent, there are fever, muscle pain, tender lymph nodes in armpits or in the neck, headaches which are different from the ones experienced before, feelings of enhanced tiredness after training sessions, un-refreshing sleep, joint pain that doesn’t come with swelling or tenderness, and certain cognitive affections which include memory loss, forgetfulness, concentration difficulties, and confusion.

Additionally, there are some individuals who develop some cardiovascular problems if their condition remains undetected and untreated. One of these is a condition named orthostatic hypertension in which a person’s heart rate increases while the blood pressure drops in the moment they sit up or stand from a reclining position. Furthermore, depression can also occur and negatively affects the person, thus making all his/her other symptoms worse. However, a person shouldn’t consider this medical condition unless there are at least three to six months of constancy without which it can’t be viewed as a serious health issue, but more like something easily solvable.

Diagnosis Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

As it was previously mentioned, in order to properly diagnose this health problem, a person should experience fatigue and tiredness for at least three month when it comes to kids and adolescents and six when adults are involved. Furthermore, four or more from the above mentioned symptoms should be present; otherwise, due to the similarities to other diseases, there is a high possibility that CFS is not the final diagnosis.

People should be aware of the fact that this disease has a pattern of relapse and remission and there is no actual biomarker or lab test that can point out its existence. Unfortunately, for some individuals the inexistence of clear symptoms may lead to the conclusion that chronic fatigue syndrome is not present which lowers the chances of curing it. Hence, when a medical doctor is consulted, patients should give a detailed medical history and be completely honest throughout the mental examination. Moreover, other additional tests may be asked if there is any type of doubt related to the presence of this condition.

If a person decides that there are increased chances for the presence of this serious health issues by having four to eight from the above mentioned symptoms of which one or more have been troubling for three to six months, depending on the situation, a personal doctor should be consulted. It is important to treat it from its early stages so other complications such as depression can be avoided.

Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

For those who have been diagnosed with CFS, there are various treatments that can be followed, from prescribed medication to therapy and natural supplementation. As far as the medication goes, the drugs which are often prescribed are sleeping pills and antidepressants. On the other hand, there are sources which state that the most efficient way to treat this medical condition is by appealing to therapy which implies combining a gentle exercising program with psychological counseling.

Additionally, there are some natural ingredients whose positive effects on this health issue have been scientifically proven. Among the best in this category, Ginseng, L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, essential fatty acids, and DHEA can be mentioned. Other natural components that can be taken in a supplementation form in order to minimize the impact of CFS on daily lifestyle include Vitamin C, digestive enzymes, Magnesium, Tyrosine, Folic Acid, Licorice, Beta-carotene, L-Glutamin, Melatonin, and Whey Protein. Even in the case of natural remedy utilization, a professional consultation is advised so a proper dosage is determined and the optimal treatment which may vary depending on the gravity of the situation can be chosen.