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Chronic Fatigue Definition, Symptoms and Treatment

02 March 2015


Chronic fatigues syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder that is typically characterized by the prevalence of profound fatigue. It does not show any improvements with bed rest, and may worsen with mental and physical activity. Estimates reveal that nearly 250,000 individuals in the UK suffer from CFS. The condition usually affects individuals in the age group of 20-40. Sometimes, even children (typically between 13-15) can be affected by the chronic disorder.

Symptoms of chronic fatigues syndrome


Chronic fatigue syndrome is generally recognized by these symptoms:

    • Fatigue
    • Sore throat
    • Reduced focus or memory loss
    • Enlargement of lymph nodes present in the armpits or neck
    • Inexplicable muscle pain
    • Fatigue and unrefreshed state even after sleep
    • Headache
    • Pain that alternates between joints, without any associated redness or swelling
    • Exhaustion that lasts for over a day, following mental/physical exercise

Causes


Despite there being numerous research efforts, scientists have been unable to pin down the exact causes of chronic fatigues syndrome. While research has not helped in pinpointing a single solid cause, some researchers say that the condition may have multiple triggers. Scientists say that combination of these triggers could cause chronic fatigues syndrome in individuals who are predisposed to be affected by it. Some possible factors that have been researched include:

    • Hormonal imbalance: Individuals with CFS are seen to show abnormal levels of hormones that are produced by the pituitary glands, hypothalamus and adrenal glands. The significance and correlation is yet to be revealed.
    • Immune system issues: CFS affected individuals show slightly impaired immune systems. However, scientists are yet to conclude if the impairment can cause CFS.
    • Viral infections: People are seen to develop CFS following viral infections, which has made researchers question if the infections could be a possible trigger. Viruses that are under speculation for causing CFS include human herpes virus 6, mouse leukemia viruses and Epstein-Barr virus.

Diagnosis


Chronic fatigues syndrome does not have a clear-cut diagnosis procedure such as lab tests, brain scans or blood tests due to which medical practitioners can diagnose it only once other medical illnesses have been ruled out in the patient. The medical practitioner may advice the patient to take various mental and physical health examinations, and lab screening tests that help rule out or find other possible medical symptoms. In the event that the patient has been suffering from fatigue for 6 months or more, but has not shown at least 4 of the recognized symptoms, it may be diagnosed as idiopathic fatigue, which is fatigue that does not have known causes. Idiopathic and Chronic fatigue patients are treated in the same manner.

Treatment


Chronic fatigues syndrome does not have a set method of cure or prescription drugs. CFS treatments are steered at reducing the symptoms. It is seen that patients respond differently to treatment, due to which the treatment plan is decided based on the needs of the patient. Medical practitioners in medical tourism destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Singapore are often sought-out for this purpose, as they are able to offer a holistic and alternative medicine remedy that addresses both the mind and the body. Furthermore, the treatment costs are extremely affordable in these locations, making them a preferred choice. Here are some treatment options for CFS:

    • Medications: CFS patients may be prescribed anti-depressants as depression is seen to be present in many patients with a CFS disorder. It can help relieve pain and improve sleep patterns. Doctors may even suggest patients to take sleeping pills, if cutting down/avoiding caffeine does not help them feel rested after a full night's sleep.

    • Exercise and psychological therapy: Graded exercise programs monitored by physical therapists may be recommended for CFS treatment. Sometimes psychological counseling may be suggested to help patients understand and work around their lifestyle keeping in mind the various limitations that accompany CFS.

    • Alternative medicine: It has been used in many CFS cases to treat pain symptoms in patients. Acupuncture, Yoga, Tai Chi and massage therapies are some commonly sought-out alternative therapies.





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