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Diagnosis and Treatment Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

[4 Nov 2010 | No Comments | | Author: ]
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a debilitating disorder in which the sufferer experiences a profound fatigue that doesnt improve with bed rest. In fact, with most sufferers their symptoms worsen with physical or mental activity. Sufferers complain that these arent the normal ups and downs of everyday life but rather is an overwhelming fatigue that seems to go on without end. Instead people who suffer from this condition often report that is steals their energy over months and sometimes even years.

People who suffer from CFS will function at a lower level of activity than they did before the onset of their disease. They report that they feel fatigued, weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory, insomnia or post-exertional fatigue that lasts more than 24 hours.

The causes of CFS hasnt been identified as yet. And, there isnt a single diagnostic test that is available to help physicians determine the presence of the condition. These two factors combine to make a diagnosis more difficult for physicians and patients alike. Some of the criteria which the CDC use in the diagnosis of CFS are the presence of symptoms for six months or longer without other known medical conditions and patients exhibit at least four of a list of several symptoms for that length of time.

Your physician will spend time ruling out the diagnosis of other medical conditions that may appear to be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome such as diabetes or thyroid disease. Scientists have found that people of every age, gender and ethnicity can have CFS, that it affects women at four times the rate of men, and is more common in people in their 40s and 50s.

The CDC estimates that there are between 1 and 4 million people in the U.S. who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Of those, 25% are unemployed or are collecting disability related to their condition. Research by the CDC also indicate that approximately 20% of those with CFS have been diagnosed which means the numbers of those who are suffering is much higher.

At this time there is no known cure for CFS so treatment is aimed specifically at relief of the symptoms and improvement of function for the sufferer. Physicians evaluate the condition of the sufferer and will recommend a combination of drugs and non-drug therapies.

Unfortunately there is no single therapy that helps all CFS patients. Physicians will recommend lifestyle changes which includes prevention of overexertion, reducing stress, changing the diet and restricting foods that negatively impact the immune system such as sugar and processed foods. By including gentle exercise such as stretching, nutritional supplementation and improving sleep patterns patients have found that improvement in their symptoms.

There may be times when the physician will recommend supervised physical therapy. But, because exercise can exacerbate the symptoms a moderate approach to activity and exercise must be recommended. Use of physical therapy will help patients to avoid too much deconditioning while they are suffering from the symptoms.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the earlier the diagnosis has been made and treatment started the better the response rate of the patients and the success rate of the treatment. It isnt clear if early intervention is responsible for more favorable outcomes but it does appear that the longer a person is sick the more complicated the illness appears to get.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affects each person differently. Some people remain homebound while others improve to the point that they can go back to work and other activities. The CDC has found that the rate of improvement does vary from between 8% and 63%. Because full recovery from CFS is rare it is important that people are diagnosed early to decrease the possible complications.


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