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Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) The Yuppie Flu?

Aug 17, 2007
Not so long ago Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CfS) was described as the "yuppie flu". It was the type of illness that only the rich and famous could afford to have. Today, it is estimated that more than 800,000 individuals suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. According to the Center for Disease Control, well over 50% of these individuals are women. While lung cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lupus frequently grab the spotlight as prevalent among women, CFS is a much more common than all of them.

Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of people with CFS have been properly diagnosed, and therefore are not receiving adequate care. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a form of fatigue that has no apparent explanation, but appears to have a set of symptoms or factors that are in common from person to person. A diagnosis of CFS will only be made when no other illness or health condition can be found as the cause of the extreme tiredness.

At this stage, doctors and scientists do not know the exact cause of CFS. What we do know is that it is an illness, or perhaps collection of illnesses defined by both "profound as well as prolonged exhaustion". Studies have shown that chronic fatigue syndrome is as prevalent among Hispanics and African Americans as it is among those who are white. It has not been proven conclusively, but it is believed that CFS may run in families, hence a possible genetic predisposition. On the other hand, it does not appear to be contagious in the way that the common cold is.

Individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome experience a number of common symptoms or factors. If a person experiences four or more of the following symptoms then a diagnosis of CFS is generally made.

The most common symptom is prolonged fatigue that lasts for six months or more. While most people feel tired from time to time, and may need to "sleep in" on occasion, people suffering from CFS require much more sleep and rest. These people constantly wake up in the morning feeling un-refreshed. This feeling will not improve simply by forging on into the shower or gym, keeping busy, or having an extra cup of coffee.

The tiredness of someone with CFS may also bring with it cognitive issues. Individuals suffering with CFS report significant problems with focusing on tasks. They may also experience difficulties with short-term memory; and other impairments.

Another factor individuals with CFS have in common is the way they recover from exertion. Most people will recover from performing a function within a predictable amount of time. That recovery also tends to be in a positive direction. An individual with CFS, on the other hand, will find they actual become more tired, and their other symptoms will get worse. This tends to be most noticeable during the first 24 hour period after the exertion. This is referred to as "post-exertional malaise".

Individuals with CFS often experience flu-like symptoms and other health issues. These symptoms do not improve within a few days or weeks. Rather, the general feeling of illness lingers. While the person with CFS does not carry HIV, they may still find themselves with a compromised immune system, tender lymph nodes, and sore throat.

Headaches also appear to be another symptom of CFS. These tend to be more severe than headaches from the past, or they have a different pattern altogether. Pain that occurs in joints that is not accompanied by redness or swelling, and muscle pain, in conjunction with other symptoms may also indicate the presence of CFS.

Because the origin and exact cause of CFS are unknown, it tends to only be diagnosed as such after all other types of health conditions are ruled out. While women appear to outnumber men in having this illness, CFS is still an "equal opportunity" disease. It affects people all across the globe regardless of ethnic or racial group.
About the Author
Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
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