Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a medical condition that is diagnosed depending upon the persistent fatigue that does not result from any known disease and the medical symptoms that are associated with it. The accepted criteria of diagnosing the condition are also based on them.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition of extreme and debilitating fatigue that interferes with working as well as daily activities, and leads to severe distress. It is not a single disease, but a condition of fatigue and generalised debility arising from different causes that is marked by particular features and satisfies certain criteria.
Symptoms of Chronic FatigueSyndrome
The first and most characteristic symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome is severe, prolonged and debilitating fatigue, because of which a person finds it very difficult to carry out any regular vocation. As the name would suggest, severe fatigue is always present and is essential to label a condition as chronic fatigue syndrome. Often the fatigue begins as part of an infection or flu, but is far more severe than is usually the case, and persists for periods far beyond the disease with which it begins.
Almost 90% of patients diagnosed with this condition suffer from headache of some form or other. Many times it could be temporal, suggesting muscular stress or temporal muscular fatigue as a possible cause. An equal number suffer from difficulty in concentrating, another sign of generalized fatigue and overall ill-being.
Muscle ache is another common symptom observed in almost 80% of persons having chronic fatigue syndrome, and almost an equal number complain of joint aches and feverishness. Sore throat is also seen in about 80% patients of this condition.
Other frequently observed symptoms in patients diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome are difficulty in sleeping, psychiatric symptoms and allergies, each one of which is seen in more than half the number of cases. In addition to these, asmaller proportion of patients, complain of other symptoms like weight loss or gain, rash, rapid pulse and chest pain.
CDC Criteria for Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
As per the Centre for disease control (CDC), a person with fatigue can be diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome only if the following two criteria are satisfied:
(i) Clinically evaluated, unexplained, persistent or relapsing fatigue that is of new or definite onset; is not the result of ongoing exertion; is not alleviated by rest; and results in substantial reduction of previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities; and
(ii) Four or more of the following symptoms that persist or recur during six or more consecutive months of illness and that do not predate the fatigue:
- Self-reported impairment in short-term memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Tender cervical or axillary nodes
- Muscle pain
- Multi-joint pain without redness or swelling
- Headaches of a new pattern or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Post-exertional malaise lasting over 24 hours
Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a label given to those conditions of severe fatigue that interfere with one’s livelihood and is severe enough to interfere with routine life. By definition, it should have persisted or recurred a few times over a period of six months, it should not be a result of a specific medical cause, and is associated with a number of symptoms like headaches, sore throat, muscle ache, joint pains, sleep disturbances, tenderness in lymph nodes and mood and sleep disturbances.