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fatigue

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is difficult to diagnosis. As with any chronic illness, it is complex and poorly understood. Education is the key. There are many resources available to help, including other people with CFS, healthcare professionals, books and magazines and of course, the Internet.

Dealing with CFS first requires getting an accurate diagnosis.

See your physician to confirm your suspicions. However, remember that there is no specific blood test or x-ray to confirm CFS. You doctor can eliminate other possible causes of your symptoms. There is no cure for CFS, but an accurate diagnosis can help with treatments to reduce your symptoms.

What is CFS?

A diagnosis of CFS is based on the following criteria put forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: an unexplained, persistent, relapsing chronic fatigue that has not been of long duration, that is not reduced by adequate rest and effects your quality of life, your work or schooling, and your personal and social life.

According to the CDC, four or more of the following symptoms are present along with the presence of severe fatigue. These symptoms must persist or recur during six or more consecutive months and not have occurred before the onset of the severe chronic fatigue.

  • Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Muscle pains (Multi-joint pain without swelling or redness)
  • Post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours
  • Sore throat
  • Substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Unrefreshing sleep

If you have any of these symptoms and suspect you might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, your doctor should get a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. He or she should then order a standard series of laboratory tests on blood and urine to rule out any other possible illnesses. If your symptoms can be contributed to no other causes, then a diagnosis of CFS can be made.

Many patients with CFS have been to numerous health care professionals before receiving a proper diagnosis. This can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Do find a provider who is patient, supporting, caring and understanding, and will let you take an active role in your own health care. Also, find an individual who wonít automatically attribute any new symptoms to your CFS without first ruling out any other possible causes.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, find a health care provider who takes you seriously. Your fatigue and symptoms are not imaginary. If your physician believes what you are experiencing is all in your head, maybe itís time to find a new physician.

Understand also that some researchers consider CFS and Fibromyalgia (FMS) to be different forms of a much larger syndrome that includes such maladies as migraines, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, and others. Other researchers have stated that untreated CFS can turn into FMS. There is no conclusive evidence of this at this point.

Treatment

There is currently no "cure" for CFS, but there are a variety of treatments that may work for you. Unfortunately, treatments for both CFS and FMS are trial and error. What works for one person, may not work for you, or may actually aggravate your symptoms.

Some medications may help reduce some symptoms. Some changes in diet and daily routine may also help. You should become well informed about whatever treatment you choose, and be careful about questionable claims and treatments.

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