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Other Names:
Tiredness, Weariness, Lethargy, Exhaustion
Fatigue versus Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By K Victory

    Chronic Fatigue vs. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome By Kamran Victory Fatigue refers to a feeling of being exhausted during or after usual activities of the day. The person may feel a lack of energy to begin the daily routines or activities. Most people feel fatigued at some point in their life.

    Fatigue can be caused by stress, excessive exertion, insufficient sleep, jetlag or some illnesses. Fatigue is typically not extreme and is never persistent. It usually goes away after rest or recovering from a flu or jetlag. A person suffering from chronic fatigue, however, displays the symptoms of exhaustion and fatigue for prolonged periods usually lasting over six months.

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disease where the patient displays signs of extreme and prolonged fatigue. It gets worse with physical activity or mental focus. Resting does not cure it.

    Doctors diagnose a person to be suffering from fatigue if two conditions are met:

    1) The patient must have suffered severe fatigue for 6 months or more with no other medical condition present

    2) at the same time and for a period of six months or more, display four or more of the following symptoms:

    a. Substantial loss of short-term memory

    b. Unsatisfactory quality of sleep

    c. Severe headaches that are new or show new patterns

    d. Sore throat

    e. Lack of ability to concentrate

    f. Muscular pain

    g. Joint pain in various joints with no sign of inflammation or redness;

    h. Tender lymph nodes;

    i. Pain or discomfort lasting more than 24 hours after physical activity

    These symptoms must not have existed before the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. If the doctors are unable to find a reasonable cause or explanation for the feeling of fatigue, CFS may be indicated.

    The medical community has not identified the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. Various theories exist that point to the following as potential causes:

    1- Abnormal hormone levels produced in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland or adrenal glands

    2- psychological stress,

    3- viral infections (including mouse leukemia, Epstein-Barr and the human herpes virus 6),

    4- Bacterial infections,

    5- Immune system problems

    6- Exposure to various chemicals

    7- Physical inactivity,

    8- Poor diet,

    9- Certain medications, for example stimulants (such as caffeine) or corticosteroids may affect the quality and amount of sleep,

    10- Social, cultural and religious factors have a significant impact on the health of an individual and may lead to CFS,

    11- Sometimes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome starts with sleep disturbance (insomnia), especially when combined with chronic pain and depression,

    12- Events that affect and limit the mobility of a patient Chronic fatigue syndrome is itself a symptom associated with many diseases including fibromyalgia, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis experience chronic fatigue.

    There is no treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome itself and the best that can be done at present is management of the symptoms. Some steps that can help and should be taken include:

    1- Stress Reduction, relaxation and climbing into a happier state of mind,

    2- Review of all foods and medications that the patient takes,

    3- Ensuring that the patient is receiving sufficient nutrition and supplements if needed,

    4- Management of chronic pain to prevent resultant sleep difficulties,

    5- Health check-up and test of organ functions that may be involved in causing chronic fatigue,

    6- Self-help techniques such as the Arthritis Self-Help Course developed by the Arthritis Foundation

    7- Getting regular exercise can reduce the symptoms of fatigue,

    8- Maintaining a healthy weight may be beneficial,

    9- Doctors routinely prescribe Antidepressants because chronic fatigue syndrome is often accompanied with depression. Treating the depression can help the patient live a happier life and improve sleep and relieve pain,

    10- Sleeping pills can help the patient get a good night’s sleep, especially if caffeine reduction and other home care steps do not help,

    11- Psychological counseling is often extremely important and provides support,

    12- A gentle exercise program is highly beneficial. Inactive people can begin with simple stretches a few minutes a day. Both strength and endurance should improve with increased exercise.

    Where to Find Additional Information

    National Library of Medicine (NLM)

    Office of Research on Women's Health

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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