Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an invisible illness. And like many invisible illnesses, there is a certain social stigma to it. Is it real? Is he just lazy? I fight through my fatigue, why doesn’t she? Does everyone need some type of illness for sympathy? That is a pretend condition if I ever heard one.
Not only does the sufferer of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome face the illness itself, but also potential backlash from others who doubt the very existence of the illness.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The Mayo Clinic defines chronic fatigue syndrome as “…a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.”
Sounds like a veritable hell on earth to more than a few people.
Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The cause of CFS is unknown. However, scientists have speculated about potential contributing factors: unusually low blood pressure, viruses, hormonal imbalance, and a weakened immune system.
Chronic fatigue can occasionally develop after a viral infection. The Epstein-Barr virus, human herpes virus 6, rubella, and several others have been studied without solid conclusions.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Myths
CFS does not exhibit measurable abnormalities.
There are many studies that observe central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, and immune system abnormalities in CFS patients.
CFS is a mental disorder.
Without a cause, some people consider CFS a mental disorder. This is not true. The condition exhibits a collection of physical signs and symptoms that validate the medical diagnosis.
CFS is an illness that affects white, middle-aged, affluent women.
CFS strikes all ages and socioeconomic groups. Affluent white women is the population that seeks out CFS specialists the most. However, this does not mean it strikes this group more than others. A 1999 CFS study indicated the highest occurrence of chronic fatigue syndrome to be among minorities, those with low levels of education, and lower occupational status.
Stress causes CFS.
Stress does not cause the disease. There have been numerous outbreaks of CFS. Pathogens most likely cause outbreaks.
Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no drug specifically aimed at treating CFS. There is no proven cure. CFS is not well understood at this point. However, treatment strategy usually consists of one or more of the following:
- A diet incorporating healthier ingredients
- Sleep management techniques
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Anti-depressant drugs
- Moderate exercise
It is important for patients to stay as active as they can in order to experience symptom reduction.
The more people with CFS education, the less likely they are to perpetuate the rumors of this invisible illness. And with awareness comes the interest of those with and without CFS to push forward the research needed to find the cause and eventual treatment.