Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known by its acronym CFS is a concerning and often debilitating illness. There is no single test to diagnose CFS; rather the disease is a “disease of exclusion” (www.emedicinehealth.com). For a patient to be diagnosed with CFS, he or she must rule out other illnesses and conditions. That’s what makes chronic fatigue syndrome so difficult to diagnose, and even more difficult to treat.
As such, it is difficult for some patient to receive the diagnosis as the guidelines are very specific. For starters, the fatigue must be experienced for at least 6 months. Furthermore, the patient has to develop the corresponding symptoms of fatigue.
For a better understanding of the condition suffers must learn about its definition, its symptoms, and the treatment options available. Herein we will explore these facets of the condition.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The definition of CFS does not clarify things very much. It is defined as an unexplained syndrome marked by fatigue, lethargy, weakness, trouble sleeping, fever, and sometimes swollen lymph node. There is if no known cause for the syndrome among individuals especially in cases where there is no over-exertion and the fatigue cannot be rectified by simply resting.
While some of the symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have been listed above, there are still many others. For instance, there are some symptoms that a patient will be aware. However, there are other symptoms that doctors seem to take notice of. Either way, when these symptoms are present for the specified period of 6 months or there is no apparent cause of the disease and there is no remedy to the fatigue, more often than not CFS ends up being the diagnosis.
Some of the prominent and unfortunately frequent signs and symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are:
- A headache
- Muscle Aches
- Achy Joints
- Persistent Fatigue
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Intermittent Fatigue
- Swollen Lymph nodes
- Memory Loss
The onset of this syndrome usually accompanies a period of being extremely sick or under enormous stress. For instance, bouts of hepatitis, bronchitis, cold, flu, mono, or illnesses similar to these ones have been associated with the occurrence of CFS. However, there are times when CFS emerges for no reason.
Usually, CFS will persist for months as a constant syndrome affecting the patient’s wellbeing. Other times, the fatigue comes and goes. While the fatigue caused by other illnesses tend to clear after a few weeks, CFS will persist for months without fully clearing up.
Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Considering the fact that so many other illnesses exhibit the same variety of symptoms as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, doctors have a hard time diagnosing the illness. For this reason, doctors usually wait for a period of 6 months where the patients exhibit the same variety of symptoms before giving a CFS diagnosis.
Understandably, suffers find it difficult that they have to wait for such a long time before being diagnosed. However, it all done for the benefits of the patient as doctors want to make sure that their patients do not suffer from other diseases such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, and much more.
That being said, due to the increased prominence and doctors and researcher becoming more aware of CFS, patients are nowadays more likely to receive a diagnosis much earlier than it has been historically. Furthermore, new definitions of the syndrome and new research are helping doctors help their patients much earlier. However, the difficulties of diagnosing the condition still remain.
There are plenty of treatment options for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. These include prescriptions and prescription alternatives.
A popular alternative care management option used to treat CFS is taking measures to negate or do away with stress completely and light exercises. Psychotherapy has also been proven to help CFS suffers learn to and adapt to cope with their condition. Other alternative treatment options that CFS suffers have found to be effective include massages, yoga, aquatic therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy tai chi, and even self-hypnosis
As for prescription treatment, currently, we do not have any medication approved by the FDA. However, there are prescription medications that are can be used to treat some of the symptoms that come with the condition. In this case, the primary use of the meds is secondary.
Instead, it is the side effects of the medication that suffers are after. For instance, medication such as antifungals, antivirals, corticoids, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, cardiac drugs, anticonvulsants, and immunoglobulins are frequently prescribed to CFS patient to help alleviate a symptom, although the medication will not treat the illness.
Do You Have CFS?
If you exhibit some of the aforementioned symptoms or you are worried that you may have CFS, you should make an appointment with your physician. Furthermore, you should consider keeping a journal of your symptoms, noting when the symptoms began, and whether new symptoms emerge over the course of time. Having such information will aid your doctor to make a proper diagnosis much faster and, therefore, help you get relief much sooner.