What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and is it real?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious, long-term illness which has the potential to affect multiple systems within the body. The condition is characterized by extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest and is estimated to affect approximately 1 million Americans.
The challenges of this condition or disorder begin with the diagnosis itself. There is no single test available that will make the determination as to whether or not a person has chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Many of the symptoms associated with CFS such as fatigue, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, headaches, inability to concentrate, etc., can also be associated with other diseases and conditions. In order to determine if a person has CFS, doctors first need to rule our other potential health problems.
Another challenge associated with CFS, is that there is no known cause. Some experts believe the onset of the condition may be associated with a viral infection or possibly psychological stress. Others believe CFS may be brought on by a weakened immune system, hormonal imbalances or a combination of factors and events. No one knows for sure.
Treating CFS presents yet another challenge as symptoms can differ with each individual affected. There is currently no known cure or FDA-approved treatments for CFS, so doctors usually focus on management of individual symptoms to improve quality of life.
For those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, there is hope on the horizon. According to the Nature Journal, the US National Institutes of Health has recently doubled spending for research into the condition, and rapid advancements in the understanding of genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics may soon help scientists determine the underlying cause of CFS which could in turn, lead to possible treatment.