Symtoms and Signs of Disease
Chronic Fatique Syndrom:
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syndrome can be misdiagnosed or overlooked because its symptoms
are common to other many disorders. Fatigue, for instance, is
found in hundreds of illnesses. The nature of the symptoms,
however, can help distinguish CFS from other illnesses.
As the name chronic fatigue syndrome
suggests, this illness is accompanied by fatigue. However, it's
not the kind of fatigue we experience after a particularly busy
day or week, after a sleepless night or after a single stressful
event. It's a severe, incapacitating fatigue that isn't improved
by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental
activity. It's an all-encompassing fatigue that results in a
dramatic decline in both activity level and stamina.
People with CFS function at a significantly
lower level of activity than they were capable of prior to
becoming ill. The illness results in a substantial reduction in
occupational (work-related), personal, social or educational
The fatigue of CFS is accompanied by
characteristic symptoms lasting at least six months. These
- difficulties with memory and concentration
- problems with sleep
- persistent muscle pain
- joint pain (without redness or swelling)
- tender lymph nodes
- increased malaise (fatigue and sickness)
- sore throat
The symptoms listed above are the symptoms
used to diagnose this illness. However, many CFS patients may
experience other symptoms, including:
- irritable bowel
- depression or psychological problems
(irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)
- chills and night sweats
- visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity
to light, eye pain)
- allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors,
chemicals, medications or noise
- brain fog (feeling like you're in a mental
- difficulty maintaining upright position,
dizziness, balance problems or fainting
It's important to tell your health care
professional if you're experiencing any of these symptoms. They
may be related to CFS, or they may indicate that you have
another treatable disorder. Only a health care professional can
What's the clinical course of CFS?
The severity of CFS varies from patient to
patient, with some people able to maintain fairly active lives.
For most symptomatic patients, however, CFS significantly limits
work, school and family activities.
While symptoms vary from person to person in
number, type and severity, all CFS patients are functionally
impaired to some degree. CDC studies show that CFS can be as
disabling as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis,
heart disease, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD) and similar chronic conditions.
CFS often follows a cyclical course,
alternating between periods of illness and relative well-being.
Some patients experience partial or complete remission of
symptoms during the course of the illness, but symptoms often
reoccur. This pattern of remission and relapse makes CFS
especially hard for patients to manage. Patients who are in
remission may be tempted to overdo activities when they're
feeling better, which can actually cause a relapse.
The percentage of CFS patients who recover is
unknown, but there is some evidence to indicate that the sooner
a person is treated, the better the chance of improvement. This
means early diagnosis and treatment are important.