Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disease characterized by persistent, debilitating fatigue that is not improved by regular bed rest and lasts for six months or more. This fatigue impairs regular life activities and may be accompanied by a variety of symptoms including muscle pain, weakness, lack of mental clarity, inability to concentrate, and intense exhaustion after mental or physical exertion. CFS can develop in patients at any age, though it is most common in the 40s and 50s, and affects women about four times more often than men.
Despite over 20 years of extensive medical research, the cause of CFS is not yet known, and it is notoriously difficult to diagnose. There is no single test that can identify CFS and no treatment that is effective for all sufferers. Medical professionals must rule out other potential causes of related symptoms and then develop a treatment plan that can effectively control the impact of CFS.
Even with treatment, CFS can be extremely severe. It may profoundly limit the sufferer’s ability to perform normal activities, and isolate them from their social support network. Sufferers may become homebound, may require live-in care or other assistance, and are known to have a high incidence of depression and other complications.
Research is ongoing to improve the condition of the millions of Americans who live with CFS. Official estimates indicate that only about 20% of the population of CFS sufferers nationwide have been diagnosed.
Information and Support for CFS Sufferers
Centers for Disease Control: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Detailed information from the Centers for Disease Control that includes the latest information on diagnosis, symptoms, risk factors, prevalence, and other facts related to CFS.
National Library of Health: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A variety of informational resources including a basic overview, information on research, therapies and coping, and CFS-related articles for children and teenage sufferers and those affected.
Women’s Health: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions: Information from the Department of Health and Human Services focusing on the impact of CFS on women, who are at greater risk of suffering the disease than men. Discusses support and treatment options and offers links to other sources.
Virus Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Recent research from the National Institutes of Health describing possible links between CFS and a particular virus, which may have implications for future treatment options.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Examination Worksheet: Disability examination worksheet from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs used to establish a positive diagnosis of CFS. Helpful in understanding the presentation of the condition.
Providing Medical Evidence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Diagnostic criteria fact sheet from the Social Security Administration intended for use by medical professionals when CFS is a cause of disability. Effective for understanding official analysis of CFS.
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