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Chronic Fatigue - a Baffling Syndrome

Aug 21, 2007
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, was first identified in the 1980s, but the cause is very hard to determine. It encompasses many different symptoms and discomforts. It is defined as significant fatigue for a period of more than six months, not related to exertion or lack of sleep, and associated with other symptoms. The patient feels fluey, no energy, frequent headaches, sore joints and lymph nodes, and has trouble concentrating.

The most common CFS symptoms are:


Constant deep, incapacitating mental and physical exhaustion, which does not disappear through rest. Rather than alleviate this long term fatigue, exercise of any kind only aggravates it.


CFS pain is generally in the muscles, joints (without swelling or inflammation), and lymph nodes. Common complaints are also irritable bowel syndrome, chest pains and sore throats.


Patients may suffer from forgetfulness and confusion.Their thinking, focusing and verbal skills are often affected as well.


Most CFS sufferers are very sensitive to light, sound, chemicals and food. The sensitivity to foods, odors, substances, and medications can make treatment difficult. Patients who already had a history of allergies and conditions, like asthma, now tend to suffer more acutely from those symptoms. Oversensitivity of all the senses contributes to abnormal tiredness, migraines, and even seizures.

Body Temperature Imbalance

CFS patients have trouble stabilizing their body temperature, constantly fluctuating between too hot and too cold. They often complain of fever-like symptoms. This may be due to the affected hypothalamus, the organ controlling body temperature.

Sleep Issues

No amount of sleep and rest can make these sufferers feel better. Most have trouble getting a good night's sleep. Even with regular sleep schedule and after prolonged deep sleep, they wake up exhausted.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is very hard to diagnose because of the many different symptoms. Every patient is different and presents varying combinations and severity of the main symptoms above. Furthermore, the symptoms may come and go seemingly without reason or treatment.

It is a very debilitating ailment, greatly affecting the persons' quality of life. The un- restful sleep, and any combination of symptoms can further contribute to a host of other problems, such as loss of concentration, dizziness, depression, mood disorders, and short-term memory impairment.

To further add to the difficulty of diagnosis are other conditions like fibromyalgia, which has most of the same symptoms. Pre-existing conditions like chronic viral illnesses, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis, sleep disorder, adverse effects of medication, severe obesity, and psychiatric illnesses all impact on the diagnosis and treatment.

There is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome; only treatments for the symptoms, such as headaches and sore throats. The treatment by conventional and alternative means both aim at the restoration of normal sleep and elimination of pain.

Treatments vary from antidepressants, steroids, immune system medications, anti-histamines to homeopathic treatments like evening primrose oil, diet therapy,
cognitive behavioral therapy, and gentle exercise programs. Although lack of a definite treatment for CFS leaves a lot to be desired, the above treatments, whether all or a combination, can prove fairly effective.

If depression is the main problem, treatment of that can significantly improve the quality of sleep, thus affording some relief of the persistent fatigue. Psychologists can identify personal factors, such as personality styles, unhelpful thought patterns, and attitudes. They can also help patients identify overwork-collapse patterns and train them to reduce the physical, psychological and emotional stressors.

Diet is of utmost importance. It is important to include essential fatty acids in your daily food intake as well as powerful antioxidants to restore the immune system. Both have shown significant improvement in chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Heavy metal may also be a cause of CFS. In the case of mercury poisoning, dental fillings would need to be removed.


This information about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has been gleaned from various sources. It may not be fully accurate and is intended only as information. Only your doctor can make the right diagnosis and prescribe treatment right for you!
About the Author
Ann Stewart is author of inspirational book, newsletters and articles,
With Wings As Eagles
Youth Makeover
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