Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between normal fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Nothing much on the first few days. Normal fatigue is the feeling of exhaustion which is usually caused by physical exertion, mental stress and sickness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, on the other hand, is a group of symptoms or conditions that result to various other symptoms such as decreased mental acuity and flu-like illness and excessive fatigue. A type that will not afford its sufferers with enough energy to move freely. The difference between the two is demonstrated once full-blown symptoms occur and when they last for at least 6 months, that’s when it becomes chronic.

• What are the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

There are various symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and in order to determine the presence of this condition, a patient must possess at least four of the following: post-exertional malaise which persists for more than 24 hours, muscle pains, joint pain, sleep difficulties or sleep that does not lend energy to the individual, frequent severe headaches, sore throat that is persistent and recurring, decreased mental clarity, poor memory and impaired concentration, and tenderness of the lymph nodes that are located in the neck and armpit.

• What are the causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

While the exact causes of CFS are not yet identified, there are strong indications that cause can be divided into three types: immune system-related, viral and non-viral pathogens and stress-related. There are also indications that CFS is triggered by the combination of these causes. For some people, the onset of the condition begins after contracting an infection; for others it begins after a prolonged period of exposure to stress.

There are also some patients who had weakened immune system which made it easier for the symptoms to develop and progress to worse conditions. Current studies are trying to find out whether genetics, emotional distress and immunological conditions are related with the disorder.

• Is there a cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

As of yet, cures for CFS are still being developed. Thus, treatment for the condition is basically focused on alleviating the symptoms.

• What are the treatment options?

There are several types of treatment options available for patients of CFS which are roughly divided into four categories: medical treatments, alternative treatments, supportive treatments and lifestyle alterations. Under medical treatments are the medications and drugs that are prescribed to alleviate symptoms such as pains, headaches and psychological stress caused by CFS. These include pain relievers, NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Anxiolyticagents, Autonomic nervous system stimulants and antidepressants.

Natural, herbal and hormone supplements are commonly used under alternative medicine. Relaxation techniques and behavioral techniques are used in supportive treatments while lifestyle alterations basically help patients change some aspects of their lives to establish relief from debilitating symptoms.

• How is diagnosis made?

Since there are no laboratory, diagnostic and medical examinations and tests that are used in the diagnosis of CFS, health care providers use the principle of exclusion in determining the presence of the condition. Through this method, all diseases, illnesses and conditions that are known to have symptoms similar with CFS are ruled out. Diagnosis is only made once the symptoms of the patients match with the case definition.

• Where can I get help?

You can get help from health care providers who are knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating CFS are the best people patients could go to. Support groups for patients of CFS are also available.