What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by profound tiredness or fatigue, regardless of bed rest. Patients experience extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition. They often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before they became ill. CFS and its symptoms may worsen with physical activity or mental exertion. Besides severe fatigue, other symptoms include muscle pain, impaired memory or mental concentration, insomnia, and post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours. CFS can happen suddenly and, in some cases, CFS can persist for years.
Risk factors
  • Age. Chronic fatigue syndrome can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects people in their 40s and 50s.
  • Sex. Women are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome up to 4 times more often than men.
  • Stress. Difficulty managing stress may contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome.
There's no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. You may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms. CFS diagnosis depends on two criteria:
  • Severity and duration. The severe and chronic tiredness lasts for more than 6 months and other medical conditions have been ruled out.
  • Number of symptoms.  Four or more symptoms of CFS are present:
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
  • Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
There is no cure or specific treatment option available for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. However, treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome focuses on relieving its symptoms. 
  • Estimated over 1 million people in the U.S. have CFS.
  • Fewer than 20% of CFS patients in the U.S. have been diagnosed.
  • Studies have found that 4 out of 5 people with CFS are women.
  • Between 0.2% and 2.3% of children or adolescents suffer from CFS.
about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

  • "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 Aug. 2016. Web. 14 June 2017.
  • "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." Chronic Fatigue Syndrome | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 14 June 2017.
  • "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 June 2017.
  • "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), 07 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 June 2017.


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