Chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue, known as Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder often characterised by extreme fatigue or tiredness, that doesn’t get better with rest, and cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. CFS is also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (“ME)” or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).

Its exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that a combination of a genetic predisposition and environmental factors is the reason why some people have the condition. Without a specific test, diagnosis is based on its symptoms and exclusion of other causes. The treatment given is aimed at managing lifestyle and relieving symptoms through alternative therapies, or conventional medicine.

Each person with ME has his or her own unique set of symptoms. The intensity of the condition can vary person to person. To qualify the patient must have fatigue, sleep problems, post-exertional malaise. In addition, they must also have cognitive impairment (brain fog). Fatigue and a drop-in activity level must be present for a minimum of 6 months.

For anyone to quality they must have unexplained fatigue that is persistent, isn’t caused by on-going exertion, isn’t better after substantial rest or sleep, and has resulted in a significant reduction in activity level.

Below are more ME symptoms:

  • Extreme, or prolonged exhaustion and feeling ill after mental or physical activity?
  • Muscle aches and pains?
  • Impaired memory or concentration?
  • Feeling tired after you’ve slept?
  • Frequent sore throats?
  • Joint pain with no swelling or redness?
  • Tender lymph nodes in your neck and near to your breast?
  • Headaches? 

Because there is no blood test, scan or anything else that can be used as a diagnostic marker to diagnose ME, the condition is diagnosed on the lack of another explanation and on presenting symptoms.

Other conditions that are a consideration, include sleep disorders, autoimmune disorders, clinical depression and heart disease and including hypothyroidism.

The above conditions may occur as overlapping conditions with ME symptoms.


8 Jan, 2019

4 thoughts on “Chronic fatigue

  1. It sounds like I have most of those symptoms, so it does make me wonder. I guess I have gotten used to it so that I don’t think much of it as a serious problem.

    All I know is that it gets a lot worse when I’m stressed out, which happens a lot right now; but I’m working on changing things one way or another.

    It’s a matter of either I’m moving, or the roommate is at this point. I also have to work very hard on remaining as calm as possible, which can be difficult at times.

    I also have to take thyroid medication along with having sleep apnea, so I know there are many factors that I have to consider dealing with these issues.

    People think that I’m shy and quiet, but I’m usually just focusing on trying to stay cool, calm and collected to avoid making things worse.

    1. Thanks Randy. Personally, I’ve known two people, who have officially been diagnosed with the condition and their symptoms were the complete opposite of each other.

      One friend who was a student at the time and whose quality of life had already changed when she found out, was advised by her doctor not to continue with the course. She’d been struggling for months with the condition before she was diagnosed.

      She was gutted having to give up college, but knew she needed to make the effort to get herself well again. The biggest thing with chronic fatigue is how the body feels and the fact that the body craves rest.

      The other person definitely didn’t have the condition, but other conditions can overlap some of its symptoms.

  2. I know someone who was told she had CFS or ME but she never exhibited the classic symptoms as you have described. My understanding is the condition can be really debilitating.

    I suspect she was probably depressed which should have been addressed, but wasn’t. Thankfully she seems to be doing okay nowadays.

    1. Clinical depression is one of the overlapping symptoms that can be easily mistaken for Chronic fatigue.

      From what you say it sounds as though she was clinically depressed and not struggling with chronic fatigue at all. The trouble with the condition is that if all else fails, doctors do hand out this particular diagnosis.

      I do think it’s easy for us to present with certain symptoms, but where there is potential to overlap like in this case, it’s important not to misinterpret or diagnose oneself through the internet.

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