Body: Keys to Health Improvement
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is the term used to describe an illness with a range of symptoms which have a debilitating effect upon the sufferer over a long period of time. Other names for the condition include: Post Viral Syndrome; Myalgic Encephalomylitis, Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.
The illness is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms vary and this makes it difficult to determine the number of people affected by the condition. However, estimates suggest that there are approximately 250,000 suffferers in the U.K. It is commonly diagnosed in women aged between 25 and 45, although it can affect children and adults of any age or ethnicity.
It is difficult to determine the cause of CFS. It is thought that the illness may develop as a result of either viral infection or emotional trauma. There are also suggestions that CFS is linked to depression.
The complex nature of CFS means that presentations of the condition vary, however, major symptoms include the following:
- Extreme tiredness for more than 6 months
- Impairment of short-term memory/concentration
- Sore throat
- Tender lymph nodes
- Muscle or joint pain without swelling or redness
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Prolonged muscle fatigue and feeling ill after mild exertion
Many people who have the illness also develop symptoms of depression. Allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema may worsen in people who have CFS.
CFS may be suspected if the symptoms have continued for more than 6 months with no obvious cause and the sufferer experiences more than 4 of the symptoms previously listed. The doctor may undertake a physical examination including an assessment of psychological and mental wellbeing. Diagnosis may also include blood tests. A diagnosis of CFS is made if no other condition is present and the criteria for the condition are met, although confirmation may take some time.
There is no specific treatment for CFS in general, the doctor may prescribe treatment to manage the symptoms such as painkillers for headaches and joint pain and antidepressants for depression.
A person suffering from CFS can improve their condition by setting realistic goals, making dietary changes including reducing caffeine and alcohol intake. Stress can be reduced through regular gentle exercise and relaxation techniques.
CFS is a long term condition with periods of relief from certain symptoms. Many people find that the symptoms are worse in the first 1-2 years. For approximately 50% of CFS sufferers, the condition clears after several years.
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