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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition characterized by profound tiredness, regardless of bed rest. CFS symptoms may actually worsen with physical or mental activity. CFS can occur suddenly and last for years. CFS affects three to four times more females than males. The cause of CFS has not been identified, nor are there specific tests available to diagnose the condition.
CFS sometimes is called chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome.
What are the symptoms of CFS?
Symptoms of CFS often mimic the flu. The following are the most common symptoms of CFS. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
How is chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosed?
CFS diagnosis depends on two criteria:
Severity and duration. The severe and chronic tiredness lasts for more than six months and other medical conditions have been ruled out.
Number of symptoms. The patient has four or more of the symptoms of CFS.
A specific treatment for CFS has yet to be proven effective. Vitamin supplements and medications have some therapeutic benefit for some CFS patients, but many treatments just alleviate the symptoms of CFS.
How is treatment determined?
Treatment is determined by your health care provider and based on:
Your overall health and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
Medication, including anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and others
Light-intensity aerobic exercise (but avoid moderate to vigorously intense physical activity)
Dietary supplements and herbal preparations
Psychotherapy and supportive counseling
Vitamin B12 supplements
Online Medical Reviewer:
Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer:
newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed:
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