Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is something many  experience in their lives but it's not always accurately diagnosed. It is a complex condition that is characterised by feeling extremely fatigued for more than 6 months without being caused by an underlying medical disorder, although cognitive difficulties are often experienced along with fatigue. The fatigue experienced may increase with mental or physical activity, and does not improve with rest.

The condition is also referred to as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and has recently been renamed SEID (systemic exertion intolerance disease) after this was proposed by the Institute of Medicine in 2015. Regardless of the name used to describe chronic fatigue (CFS, ME and SEID) the primary symptom of this condition involves being chronically fatigued, regardless of the amount of sleep one gets. Chronic fatigue as a symptom may be caused by a number of underlying conditions, therefore making the disorder more difficult to explain and diagnose.

The cause of CFS is still unknown, however, there are a number of theories in circulation within the medical community. These theories range from psychological stress to viral infections being underlying factors in its development. There are some experts who believe that the disorder may be the result of a combination of  factors which trigger chronic fatigue syndrome. 

There is no single way to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome and if you’re suffering from persistent, extreme, unexplained fatigue you may require an assortment of tests in order for other health disorders with similar symptoms to be ruled out. Once this has been done, treatment will usually focus on the relief of the symptoms.  

NEXT What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?

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