What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder of someone feeling extreme tiredness or fatigue that cannot be explained entirely by an essential medical condition. CFS is also called SEID (systemic exertion intolerance disease) or ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis). This complicated disorder worsens with mental or physical activity but does not go away with rest.

Other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are:

  • Difficulties with concentration, attention, and memory
  • Dizziness, which gets worse when one moves from sitting or lying down to a standing position
  • Sleep that is not refreshing

How Common Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is in the US and UK

CDC estimates chronic fatigue syndrome to affect between 17 and 24 million people in the world. In the United States of America, CDC estimated that about one million people have this disorder. However, the Institute of Medicine report estimated in 2015 that about 2.5 million individuals had ME in the US. In addition, the UK biobank estimates the United Kingdom to have 30 million people suffering from ME.

What Causes CFS?

The cause of this disorder is still unknown. Several theories try to explain the cause of Chronic fatigue syndrome, including:

  • Psychological stress. Some people who have experienced emotional trauma shortly after that face the symptoms of this disorder.
  • Viral infections. Some individuals develop the disorder, which is triggered by a viral infection. The suspicious viruses studied concerning the illness include human herpes virus 6, rubella virus, Ross River virus (RRV), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
  • A weakened immune system. The immune system of individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome usually appears slightly impaired. However, it is not clear if a weakened immune system can cause the disorder.
  • Hormonal imbalances. Individuals with CFS may sometimes experience out-of-the-ordinary blood levels of hormones. The hormonal imbalances occur in hormones produced in the adrenal glands, hypothalamus, or pituitary glands.
  • Or a combination of several factors

However, it is also possible for some individuals to be genetically predisposed to develop chronic fatigue syndrome. The lack of a single cause identified for CFS makes diagnosing it hard.

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Risk Factors of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome is commonly found among individuals in their middle age, more so between their 40s and 50s.
  • Gender also plays a significant role in the disorder. This is because women are four times more likely to be found with the condition than men. Moreover, there are other factors which may increase a person’s risk for chronic fatigue syndrome, including:
  • Stress
  • Allergies
  • Environmental factors
  • Genetic predisposition

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The symptoms of this disorder may vary depending on the person and the disorder’s severity. CTS’s most common symptom is fatigue, which is very severe until it interferes with a person’s daily activities. For the condition to be diagnosed, the fatigue that results in reduced ability to carry out daily activities must have lasted six months and above. It should also not be curable after resting. An individual will also experience extreme tiredness after mental or physical activities. The fatigue can last longer than 24 hours after the individual finishes the activity.

Other symptoms include:

  • Chronic insomnia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Feeling unrefreshed after rest
  • Reduced concentration
  • Orthostatic intolerance. That is, feeling dizzy, faint, or lightheaded when you stand up.
  • Loss of memory
  • Physical symptoms include:
  • Frequent sore throat
  • Frequent headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes around the armpits and neck
  • Multi-joint pain accompanied by swelling or redness

Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Currently, the disorder has no specific cure. The patients have diverse symptoms, and thus they may need different types of treatment to relieve the symptoms and manage the condition. There are several ways to treat CFS:

Addressing Post-Exertional Malaise Symptoms

Post-exertional malaise occurs when emotional, mental, or physical exertion causes the disorder symptoms to worsen. The symptoms usually get worse between 12 and 48 hours after one has done the activity, and it lasts for some days and sometimes weeks.

Pacing, or activity management, helps patients balance activity and rest, thereby preventing PEM flare-ups. One will be required to find individual limits for activities, plan them, and ensure they rest so they stay within limits. People staying within their boundaries is referred to by doctors as an energy envelope. You can consider having a diary where you write down your activities to assist you in finding your personal limits.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

Adjusting your lifestyle may be helpful in reducing chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Getting rid of or limiting your intake of caffeine will ease insomnia and help you sleep better. Also, limit alcohol intake.

Moreover, if napping during the day affects your sleeping ability at night, then avoid it. Have a sleep routine and go to sleep and wake up every day at the same time.


Basically, there is no one specific medication that creates all the chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Moreover, there is a possibility that the symptoms can change over time, which will need the medications to change as well.

There are cases where chronic fatigue syndrome triggers depressive symptoms. Therefore, one may require anti-depressant therapy or a mental health provider.

You may also be recommended a sleep aid if your lifestyle changes are causing a restful night’s sleep. Your doctor can prescribe pain-reducing medication that can help you cope with joint pain and aches resulting from chronic fatigue syndrome.