Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Information
We all get tired. Many of us at times have felt depressed. But the mystery known as
chronic fatigue syndrome is not like the normal ups and downs we experience in everyday
life. The early sign of this illness is a strong and noticeable fatigue that comes on
suddenly and often comes and goes or never stops. You feel too tired to do normal
activities or are easily exhausted with no apparent reason. Unlike the mind fog of a
serious hangover, to which researchers have compared Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the
profound weakness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome does not go away with a few good nights of
sleep. Instead, it slyly steals your energy and vigor over months and sometimes years.
How Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Begins and Its Symptoms
For many people, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome begins after a bout with a cold, bronchitis,
hepatitis, or an intestinal bug. For some, it follows a bout of infectious mononucleosis,
or mono, which temporarily saps the energy of many teenagers and young adults. Often,
people say that their illnesses started during a period of high stress. In others, Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome develops more gradually, with no clear illness or other event starting
Unlike flu symptoms, which usually go away in a few days or weeks, Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome symptoms either hang on or come and go frequently for more than six months.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms include:
- Tender lymph nodes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle and joint aches
- Inability to concentrate
Who Gets Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was once stereotyped as a new "yuppie flu" because
those who sought help for and caused scientific interest in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in
the early 1980s were mainly well-educated, well-off women in their thirties and forties.
Similar illnesses, known by different names, however, date back at least to the late
1800s. The modern stereotype arose. Since then, doctors have seen the syndrome in people
of all ages, races, and social and economic classes from several countries around the
Still, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is diagnosed two to four times more often in women than in
men, possibly because of biological, psychological, and social influences. For example,
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may have a gender difference similar to diseases such as
systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis, which affect more women than men.
- Women may be more likely than men to talk with their doctors about Chronic Fatigue
- Some members of the medical community and the public do not know about or are skeptical
of the syndrome.
- An increasingly diverse patient group will likely emerge as more doctors see Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome as a real disorder.
How Many People Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Because there is no specific laboratory test or clinical sign for Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome, no one knows how many people this illness affects. CDC estimates, however, that
as many as 500,000 people in the United States have a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-like
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
While no one knows what causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for more than a century,
doctors have reported seeing illnesses similar to it. In the l860s, Dr. George Beard named
the syndrome neurasthenia because he thought it was a nervous disorder with weakness and
fatigue. Since then, health experts have suggested other explanations for this baffling
- Iron-poor blood (anemia)
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Environmental allergy
- A body wide yeast infection (candidiasis)
In the mid-1980s, the illness became labeled "chronic EBV" when laboratory
clues led scientists to wonder whether the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) might be causing this
group of symptoms. New evidence soon cast doubt on the theory that EBV could be the only
thing causing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. High levels of EBV antibodies (disease-fighting
proteins) have now been found in some healthy people as well as in some people with
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Likewise, some people who dont have EBV antibodies, and
who thus have never been infected with the virus, can show Chronic Fatigue Syndrome