Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, but many factors might play a role
- It tends to affect women more, especially those in their 40s and 50s
- Stress is often a common factor seen in almost all people suffering from CFS
- Some people develop CFS after a viral ailment
- Hormonal imbalances might play a role
- Some people have a weak immune system and are more prone to CFS
- CFS might also be due to a genetic abnormality
What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?
A person suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome can have symptoms like
- Constant fatigue
- A feeling of waking up unrefreshed after sleep
- Lack of concentration
- Joint and muscle pains
- Sore throat
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the body
- CFS tends to be cyclical and there are periods when the affected person might feel better and then relapse again
Diagnosis of Chronic fatigue syndrome
There are no lab tests to screen for CFS, and its symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. Many people with CFS don’t “look” sick, so doctors it is challenging for doctors to diagnose this disease.
In order to be diagnosed with CFS, your doctor will rule out other potential causes and review your medical history with you. They’ll make sure that you have at least four of the above symptoms. They’ll also ask about the duration and severity of your unexplained fatigue.
Ruling out other potential causes of your fatigue is a key part of the diagnosis process.
Some conditions whose symptoms resemble those of CFS include:
- Lyme disease
- multiple sclerosis
- lupus (SLE)
- major depressive disorder
You may also experience symptoms of CFS if you’re severely obese or have depression or sleep disorders. The side effects of certain drugs, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can mimic CFS as well.
Because the symptoms of CFS resemble those of other conditions, it’s important not to self-diagnose and to talk to your doctor.
What can I do if I feel tired all the time?
- In case you are troubled by constant fatigue and lethargy, it would be best to consult a doctor.
- In addition to a careful history concerning your condition, the doctor will generally also advise tests to rule out other medical conditions that can cause symptoms similar to what you are suffering from.
- There are no specific tests to diagnose CFS, it is a diagnosis of exclusion. So, it’s important to be sure that the symptoms are not due to any other disease, like hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, lupus, depression etc.
How is chronic fatigue syndrome managed?
Managing CFS involves lifestyle changes as well as support in the form of counselling. There is no specific medical treatment available to treat this condition. Some lifestyle changes can help in managing the condition
- It’s best to avoid stimulants like caffeine, especially near bedtime, as these can cause insomnia and irritability.
- Avoid sleeping during the day so that the sleep at night is undisturbed.
- A regular exercise regime is very important. It is especially beneficial to walk jog outdoors as this helps in improving the mood too.
- A well balanced diet, rich in anti-oxidants as well as protein, can help in maintaining the body’s immunity. Pulses, meat, eggs, fruits and nuts can all help in strengthening the body.
- Meditation, yoga, tai chi etc. can help in relaxing the mind as well as the body.
- Joining a support group or using the help of a therapist is beneficial for many people as it helps them cope better with the anxiety and depression that is seen often in this condition.
- In case required, an anti-depressant might be prescribed by your doctor.
- The doctor might also recommend multivitamin supplements periodically to help boost your immunity.
We recommend medical guidance prior to starting any treatment regime.