Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest, and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. CFS can also be referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).
The causes of CFS aren’t well-understood. Some theories include viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of factors. Because no single cause has been identified, and because many other illnesses produce similar symptoms, CFS can be difficult to diagnose. There are no tests for CFS, so your doctor will have to rule out other causes for your fatigue.
While CFS has in the past been a controversial diagnosis, it’s now widely accepted as a real medical condition. CFS can affect anyone, though it’s most common among women in their 40s and 50s. There is no current cure, so treatment for CFS focuses on relieving your symptoms.
the cause of CFS is unknown. Researchers speculate that viruses, hypotension (unusually low blood pressure), a weakened immune system, and hormonal imbalances could all be contributing factors. It’s also possible that some people are genetically predisposed to develop CFS.
Though CFS can sometimes develop after a viral infection, no single type of infection has been found to cause CFS. Some viruses that have been studied in relation to CFS include Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human herpes virus 6, Ross River virus (RRV), rubella, Coxiella burnetti, and mycoplasma. Researchers have found that a person who has been infected with at least three of the implicated pathogens has a greater chance of developing CFS.
CFS is most common among people in their 40s and 50s. Gender also plays an important role in CFS, as women patients outnumber men by a nearly 2 to 1 ratio. Genetic predisposition, allergies, stress, and environmental factors may also increase your risk
The symptoms of CFS vary from person to person and based on the severity of the condition. The most common symptom is fatigue that is severe enough to interfere with your daily activities. For CFS to be diagnosed, fatigue must last for at least six months and must not be curable with bed rest, and you must have at least four other symptoms as well.
Other symptoms of CFS may include:
loss of memory or concentration feeling unrefreshed after a night’s sleep chronic insomnia (and other sleep disorders) muscle pain frequent headaches multijoint pain without redness or swelling frequent sore throat tender lymph nodes in your neck and armpits
You may also experience illness or extreme fatigue after physical or mental activities. This can last for more than 24 hours after the activity.