Dr. Linette Williamson - CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) in Carlsbad, California
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disorder defined by extreme fatigue or exhaustion that doesn't go away with rest and can't be explained by an underlying medical condition. CFS can also be referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). The causes of CFS aren't fully understood yet. Some theories include viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of factors.
Because no one cause has been identified, and because many other conditions generate similar symptoms, CFS can be challenging to diagnose. There are no tests for CFS. Your doctor will have to eliminate other reasons for your fatigue when determining a diagnosis. While CFS was previously a controversial diagnosis, it's currently widely accepted as a medical condition. CFS can affect anyone, though it's most common amongst women in their 40s and 50s. There's currently no cure, but treatment can alleviate symptoms.
Here's what you need to understand about CFS, including symptoms, treatment options, and outlook.
What Causes CFS?
The cause of CFS is unknown. Researchers speculate that contributing factors might include:.
- a weakened immune system
- hormonal imbalances
It's even possible that some individuals are genetically predisposed to develop CFS.
Though CFS can sometimes develop after a viral infection, no specific type of infection has been identified to cause CFS. Some viral infections that have been studied in connection with CFS include those caused by:.
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- human herpesvirus 6
- Ross River virus (RRV)
- rubella virus
Infections caused by bacteria, including Coxiella burnetii and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, have also been researched in relation to CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that CFS may be the end stage of multiple various conditions, rather than one particular condition. In fact, approximately 1 in 10 people with EBV, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetii infection will develop a condition that meets the requirements for a CFS diagnosis. Furthermore, researchers claim that those who've had severe symptoms with any of these three infections are at a higher risk for later developing CFS. Individuals with CFS occasionally have weakened immune systems, but doctors don't know whether this is enough to cause the disorder. Individuals with CFS can also occasionally have unusual hormone levels. Doctors have not yet concluded whether this is significant, either.
What are the Symptoms of CFS?
Symptoms of CFS vary based on the individual and the severity of the condition. The most prevalent symptom is fatigue that's serious enough to interfere with your everyday activities. For CFS to be diagnosed, a significantly reduced ability to execute your usual daily activities with fatigue has to last for at least 6 months. It must not be curable with bed rest. You will also experience severe fatigue after physical or mental tasks, which is called post-exertional malaise (PEM). This can last for more than 24 hours after the activity.
CFS can also introduce sleep problems, such as:
- feeling unrefreshed after a night's sleep
- chronic insomnia
- other sleep disorders
In addition, you might also experience:
- loss of memory
- decreased concentration
- orthostatic intolerance (going from lying or seated to standing positions makes you light-headed, dizzy, or faint)
Physical symptoms of CFS may include:
- muscle pain
- frequent headaches
- multi-joint pain without redness or swelling
- frequent sore throat
- tender and swollen lymph nodes in your neck and underarms
CFS affects some individuals in cycles, with periods of feeling worse and then better.
Symptoms may in some cases even vanish completely, which is referred to as remission. But, it's still possible for symptoms to return later on, which is referred to as a relapse.
This cycle of remission and relapse can make it challenging to manage your symptoms, but it's possible.
How is CFS Diagnosed?
CFS is a very difficult disorder to diagnose.
According to the Institute of Medicine, as of 2015, CFS occurs in about 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans. It's estimated, however, that 84 to 91 percent have yet to receive a diagnosis.
There are no medical tests to screen for CFS. Its symptoms are similar to several other disorders. Many individuals with CFS don't "look sick," so doctors might not realize that they indeed have a health problem.
In order to receive a CFS diagnosis, your physician will eliminate other possible causes and discuss your medical history with you.
They'll confirm that you at least have the core symptoms previously mentioned. They'll also ask about the duration and severity of your unexplained fatigue.
Eliminating other possible causes of your fatigue is a key part of the diagnosis procedure. Some disorders with symptoms that resemble those of CFS include:
- Lyme disease
- multiple sclerosis
- lupus (SLE)
- major depressive disorder
- severe obesity
- sleep disorders
The side effects of certain drugs, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can resemble symptoms of CFS as well.
Because of the similarities between symptoms of CFS and many other disorders, it's important to not self-diagnose. Speak with your physician about your symptoms. They can work with you to get relief.
Chronic fatigue syndrome in Carlsbad
There's currently no specific cure for CFS. Each person has various symptoms and therefore may require different types of treatment to manage the disorder and relieve their symptoms.
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- a structured exercise programme called graded exercise therapy (GET)
- medicine to control pain, nausea and sleeping problems
- Most people with CFS will improve with time, particularly with treatment, although some people do not make a complete recovery.
It's also likely there will be periods when your symptoms get better or worsen. Children and young people with CFS/ME are more likely to recover completely.
Linette Williamson, MD is an Integrative Medical Doctor, who specializes in helping her patients and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Carlsbad, California
Identify lifestyle factors that affect their everyday medical issues. Dr. Williamson uses cutting-edge testing to find imbalances that are related to your health problems. She will spend time with you to find out what specific issues you have and help you develop a specific plan that is unique to you.
Call the clinic and schedule your appointment now. Call us today at (760) 875-2627