Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Myth or Malady?

Copyright 2006 Anne Wolski

It is only in recent years that the medical profession has come to commonly recognize the condition of chronic fatigue syndrome but people who are afflicted by the condition have been only too aware of the debilitating effects for years.

There are still many doctors who question the validity of chronic fatigue syndrome and, among doctors who do believe the condition exists, there is still fierce debate over whether its origins are of a physical or psychological nature. This lack of unity in medical circles leads to great confusion among the public. There are still a lot of people who believe that sufferers of this condition are nothing more than malingerers. For the sufferers of this disease, this creates added stress and confusion.

The sufferers of this condition experience continuous physical tiredness. In fact, one of the first symptoms is an overwhelming, incapacitating tiredness but this is only one aspect of the disease. This may be accompanied by aching muscles. This often affects the lifestyle of the sufferer so much that they are unable to work or to take part in social activities. For some, they become totally incapacitated.

It is quite common for a normally healthy person who generally leads an active life, to one day wake up with what they believe is a case of influenza characterized by a sore throat, swollen glands, headache and fever. He or she is too tired to even get out of bed. Obviously, the first thoughts are that they have the flu but, when weeks pass without the symptoms going away, it is a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome.

A lot of people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome also experience severe mental tiredness which may be related to emotional turmoil that arises either from the condition itself or from the frustration sufferers can feel because of the physical exhaustion.

One of the complications that accompany this disease is that of serious cognitive problems. Processing and retention of information can become very difficult, creating even more emotional problems for the sufferer. Often, the sufferer finds it difficult to engage in a conversation as they struggle to focus on the words or to process those words. This problem also extends to written word as the sufferer may have to read the same sentence several times in order to process its meaning.

Memory loss, particularly short-term memory loss is common among sufferers of this illness. Many describe not being able to remember people’s names or the names for common things. They may also find it difficult to contribute to a conversation as they often forget words or what they are actually saying.

In the past, many people with chronic fatigue syndrome were diagnosed as having myalgic encephalomyelitis. Encephalomyelitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and that is not a characteristic of chronic fatigue syndrome so the diagnosis was incorrect. Sometimes, chronic fatigue syndrome is referred to as postviral fatigue syndrome as it often follows viral infections.

The real cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown. What is known is that it generally follows a viral infection or, more often, a series of infections.

It is important for the sufferer to follow a healthy diet in order for the recovery from this condition. It is also important to look after the health of the mind as well as the body. Time and rest are the only real treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome.

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