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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a chronic condition characterised by ongoing exhaustion. It's also know as ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy), Tapanui or Yuppie Flu

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Symptoms of CFS include:

  • extreme exhaustion lasting more than six months

  • problems with concentration or memory

  • insomnia and difficulty sleeping resulting in unrefreshing sleep

  • muscle aches or weakness

  • pain or aches in joints or skin without redness or swelling

  • sore throat

  • swollen glands

  • tender lymph nodes in neck or underarm

  • feeling dizzy or faint when sitting up or standing

  • post-exercise fatigue, extending to the following day

  • headaches of a new type, pattern or strength

  • gastrointestinal symptoms.

Symptoms often overlap with fibromyalgia but CFS is not characterised by tender points.


Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The cause of CFS is not yet fully understood, but it is likely that several factors contribute to its development including changes in the immune system and body chemistry.


CFS is usually triggered by a viral infection, such as glandular fever or influenza, but any infection may be the trigger.


It is likely that the potential for getting CFS is genetic and runs in families.


Other factors that may contribute include emotional or physical distress, not enough sleep, hormonal imbalance and/or over-exercising.


Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

ME/CFS can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of CFS are similar to those of a number of other medical conditions, which need to be ruled out first.


For a diagnosis of CFS the symptoms must match both of the following criteria

  1. Severe chronic fatigue lasting 6 months or longer, with other medical conditions ruled out by clinical diagnosis. The fatigue is not lifelong or the result of ongoing exertion, and is not much relieved by rest

  2. Four or more of the other symptoms listed above in the symptoms section that were not experienced before the fatigue started.


Treatment and Management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A treatment plan for CFS aims to relieve symptoms to improve quality of life and many lifestyle changes can be helpful such as:

  • stress and sleep management

  • pacing

  • a balanced exercise routine

  • eating well

  • psychological support such as support groups

  • complementary therapies such as relaxation and breathing exercises.

Supplements can help diagnosed deficiencies.

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