Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Information

Are you looking for chronic fatigue syndrome information? Here are the most frequently asked questions about chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Chronic Fatigue FAQ

What is chronic fatigue?

Chronic fatigue is feeling exhausted or having a lack of energy that lasts longer than six months. It is usually a symptom of something else.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

CFS is chronic fatigue

coupled with at least four of the following additional symptoms: forgetting things or having a hard time focusing; feeling tired even after sleeping; muscle pain or aches; pain or aches in joints without swelling or redness; feeling discomfort or "out-of-sorts" for more than 24 hours after being active; headaches of a new type, pattern, or strength; tender lymph nodes in the neck or under the arm; sore throat.

How are CFS and fibromyalgia related?

CFS and fibromyalgia are "sister" syndromes. Many people believe they are different manifestations of the same disease. They have similar symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments. The main difference is that with CFS, fatigue is the most significant presenting symptom; with fibromyalgia, pain is the most significant symptom.

Are there other symptoms related to CFS?

Yes. CFS has about 50 recognized symptoms, including dizziness and balance problems, allergies and chemical sensitivities, anxiety, stiffness, numbness, and more.

What causes CFS?

No single cause of the illness has been identified. However, there are a few competing theories. Infection, immune dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, hypotension, nutritional deficiencies, mitochondrial dysfunction, central sensitivity, and genetic factors are all currently being researched to determine their role in CFS. Most likely, the cause of CFS is the result of a combination of these factors.

Is there a diagnostic test for CFS?

No, there is no blood, urine, or imaging test to diagnose CFS. The keys to diagnosis are recognizing the characteristic symptoms and excluding other possible causes. Once these other diseases have been ruled out, then the diagnosis of CFS is made based on symptoms.

Who is at risk?

More than four million Americans have CFS. This illness strikes more people in the United States than multiple sclerosis, lupus, lung cancer or ovarian cancer.

CFS occurs four times more frequently in women than in men, although people of either gender can develop the disease.

The illness occurs most often in people in their 40s and 50s, but people of all ages can get CFS.

CFS is less common in children than in adults. Studies suggest that CFS is more prevalent in adolescents than in younger children.

CFS occurs in all ethnic and racial groups, and in countries around the world. Research indicates that CFS is at least as common among African Americans and Hispanics as it is among Caucasians.

People of all income levels can develop CFS.

CFS is sometimes seen in members of the same family, but there's no evidence that it's contagious. Instead, there may be a familial or genetic link. (Source: CDC)

Is there a cure for CFS?

No, there is no single curative treatment for CFS. However, there are a range of symptomatic and supportive treatments which are beneficial.

Is it possible to recover from CFS?

Yes! People with CFS who have been ill for less than two years have a high likelihood of recovery within the following two to three years. Recovery typically occurs gradually over weeks to months.

How is CFS treated?

Treatment of CFS is usually tailored to the patient, and tends to focus on sleep, pain relief, and fatigue. Typical medical treatment would include: sleep aids; pain medications; antidepressants; antivirals and/or antibacterials; anti-inflammatories, including steroids; and injections of B-vitamins and magnesium. In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes such as preventing overexertion (pacing), reducing stress, mild exercise, and diet can be very helpful to successful recovery.

Can people with CFS continue working?

Most often, the answer is yes! CFS is associated with a spectrum of disability ranging from people who are housebound to those who experience more mild symptoms. Whenever possible people should be encouraged to continue working. In addition, there are income opportunities that can be explored for those with greater limitations.

What if I can't work because of CFS?

If you can't work because of CFS, get in touch with the Social Security Administration for help with disability benefits.

Social Security Administration

Phone Number: 1 (800) 772-1213 (toll free)

Internet Address:

Will I still be able to enjoy my favorite hobbies and activities?

You should be able to still enjoy most activities – except be prepared to make some modifications, especially for physically demanding activities. If there are some activities you can no longer participate in, consider this a good time to explore new interests.

Are CFS support groups available?

Yes. You can find local support groups, online support groups, chronic fatigue blogs, and forums to help you connect with others who have CFS.

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