Chronic fatigue is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity but almost doesn’t improve with relaxation and rest.
Chronic fatigue condition is also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is still unknown. There are, however, many theories: ranging from viral infections to psychological stress.
It is believed by some, that chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.
There’s no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, and you may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms.
While chronic fatigue has in the past been a controversial diagnosis, it’s now widely accepted as a medical condition that can affect anyone. However, it’s most common among women in their 40s and 50s.
There’s currently no cure and treatment for focuses on relieving symptoms.
Causes Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is unknown, but researchers speculate that contributing factors may include:
- hormonal imbalances
- a weakened immune system, and
- and possibly genetics
Though Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can sometimes develop after a viral infection, no single type of infection has been found to cause it. Some viral infections that have been studied in relation to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include:
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- human herpesvirus 6
- Ross River virus (RRV)
Infections caused by bacteria, including Coxiella burnetii and mycoplasma pneumonia, have also been studied in relation to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have suggested that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be the end stage of multiple different conditions, rather than one distinctive condition.
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sometimes have weakened immune systems, and can also sometimes have abnormal hormone levels, but doctors haven’t yet concluded whether these factors are significant.
What Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Feels Like
Chronic fatigue symptoms differ between patients, but severe fatigue or chronic tiredness that affects daily activities is common among patients. Patients may also complain of pain and a kind of brain confusion that makes it hard to concentrate or remember recent details.
If you’ve been exhausted for months, and nothing you have tried makes you feel better, then you may be suffering from chronic fatigue, and it is about time to see a doctor.
Studies suggest that close to 80% of people who are living with chronic fatigue have never been formally diagnosed. This means that those people are not getting the treatment they need.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of memory or concentration
- A sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
- Unexplained muscle or joint pain
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Extreme exhaustion
Risk Factors For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Factors that may increase your risk of chronic fatigue syndrome include:
- Age: it can occur at any age, but most common among people in their 40s and 50s.
- Sex: Women are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome much more often than men, according to a report.
- Stress: A wrong method of managing stress may contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome.
How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a very challenging condition to diagnose, but according to the Institute of Medicine, It’s estimated that 84 to 91 percent of sufferers are yet to be diagnosed.
There are no lab tests to screen for chronic fatigue syndrome, and its symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. Furthermore, many people with chronic fatigue syndrome don’t appear sick, and doctors may not even recognize that they’re sick.
But, in order to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, your doctor will rule out other potential causes and review your medical history. He will make sure that you have at least four of the symptoms mentioned above. Your doctor will also ask about the duration and severity of your unsolved fatigue.
Ruling out other potential causes of your fatigue is a key part of the diagnosis process, as some symptoms of certain conditions resemble those of chronic fatigue syndrome. Such conditions include:
- major depressive disorder
- Lyme disease
- multiple sclerosis
- lupus (SLE)
You may also experience symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome if you’re obese, depressed or have sleep disorders. Also, the side effects of certain drugs, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can mimic symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome as well.
Because of the similarities between symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and those of other conditions, it’s important not to self-diagnose. Always talk to your doctor.
Complications of chronic fatigue syndrome include Depression, Social isolation, Lifestyle restrictions, and increased work absences that would lead to lower productivity.