Health Guide
Drug Guide

Chronic fatigue syndrome

What is it?

Chronic fatigue (fuh-TEEG) syndrome (CFS) is a long term illness that can be hard to diagnose. It is also called "chronic fatigue and immune-dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS)." The main symptom of CFS is extreme tiredness (fatigue) that may make it hard or impossible to do everyday tasks. Some people with CFS cannot work and some cannot even get out of bed at times. CFS may also cause many other symptoms. There is no cure for CFS. However, you may decrease some symptoms with treatment and lifestyle changes.

Causes:

It is not known what causes CFS. It may be caused by problems with your immune (i-MUN) system. The immune system is the part of your body that fights infection (in-FEK-shun). Some people have their first CFS symptoms after having an infection, such as a cold or the flu. Or some people have their first CFS symptoms after a very stressful time in their lives. It is likely that more than one thing triggers (starts) CFS. CFS may run in families. It is not thought to be contagious (kon-TAY-jus) (spread through person-to-person contact).

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms of CFS may change from day to day. These symptoms can range from mild to severe (very bad). CFS can start suddenly or the symptoms may come on slowly. The symptoms may come and go or stay for months to years. Your symptoms may get worse during the first six months of your illness and then may stay about the same. The following are some common signs and symptoms of CFS:

Medical Care:

CFS is an illness that is hard to understand and treat. There is not a special test that can be done to know if you have CFS. It may cause you much stress if caregivers cannot find the reason for your signs and symptoms. You may feel relieved when caregivers tell you that you have CFS. It may take months or years before you slowly improve. But there is no cure for this illness. Your caregiver may suggest one or more of the following tests or treatments:

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

Supplements:

Complementary Therapies:

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss your treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

References:

1. Artsimovich NG, Chugunov VS, Kornev AV et al: The chronic fatigue syndrome. Zh Nevropatol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova 1994; 94(5):47-50.

2. Butler S, Chalder T, Ron M et al: Cognitive behaviour therapy in chronic fatigue syndrome. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1991; 54(2):153-158.

3. Forsyth LM, Preuss HG, MacDowell AL et al: Therapeutic effects of oral NADH on the symptoms of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1999; 82(2):185-191.

4. Fulcher KY & White PD. Randomised controlled trial of graded exercise in patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome. BMJ 1997; 314:1647-1652.

5. James LC & Folen RA: EEG biofeedback as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome: a controlled case report. Behav Med 1996; 22(2):77-81.

6. Plioplys A & Plioplys S: Amantadine and L-carnitine treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Neuropsychobiology 1997; 35(1):16-23.

7. Terman M, Levine SM, Terman JS et al: Chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder: comorbidity, diagnostic overlap, and implications for treatment. Am J Med 1998; 105(3A):115S-124S).


Last Updated: 9/15/2016

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