Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
How do I know if I
might have chronic fatigue
If you answer yes to any of the questions listed
below, you may have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also called chronic
fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).
- Have you been tired (fatigued) for a long
time--more than 6 months--even though you are getting enough rest and are not
working too hard?
- Has your doctor been unable to find illnesses
that could explain your symptoms?
- Are you able to do less than half of what you
used to do because you feel tired?
- Have you had problems that keep coming back or
don't go away for 6 months or more with 4 or more of the following signs and
symptoms listed below?
or painful lymph nodes in neck or armpits
that moves from joint to joint but doesn't include redness or swelling
that are different from the kind you usually get, or headaches that make your
whole head hurt
with short-term memory or concentration
very tired for more than 24 hours after exercise that didn't bother you before
People with CFS may
have other symptoms as well.
chronic fatigue syndrome?
No one is certain about what causes CFS. The
symptoms may be caused by an immune system that isn't working well. Or they may
be caused by some kind of virus. Researchers are looking for the cause of CFS.
How is chronic
fatigue syndrome treated?
The first step is to see if there is a medical
cause for your fatigue. Your doctor will probably want to review your symptoms
and medical history, and give you a physical exam. Your doctor may also want to
do some blood tests, but lab testing is not often helpful. Some of the
symptoms, such as muscle aches, sleep problems, anxiety and depression, can be
treated with medicine. The medicine can only reduce your symptoms and allow you
to be more active, not cure the fatigue. So far, there is no medicine that cures
the entire syndrome. Most symptoms improve with time.
How can I help
- Keep a daily diary to identify times when you
have the most energy. Plan your activities for these times.
- Keep up some level of activity and exercise,
within your abilities. Your doctor can help you plan an exercise program to
maintain your strength at whatever level is possible. Get plenty of exercise.
- Give yourself permission to recognize and express
your feelings, such as sadness, anger and frustration. You need to grieve lost
- Ask for support from family and friends. Look for
support groups or counseling in your community. Your doctor is another important
source of help. Emotional support is important in coping.
- If your memory and concentration are affected by
chronic fatigue, keep lists and make notes to remind yourself of important
things. Also, give yourself more time to do things that take concentration.
Medicine may also help you sleep better, which might improve your memory and
How can my doctor
Your doctor can work with you to provide symptom
relief and to help you find ways of coping with the way CFS changes your life.
Chronic fatigue affects you physically, emotionally and socially. When you
address all of these factors, you have the best chance of adjusting to your
illness and feeling more satisfied with your life. If you have CFS, a good
long-term relationship with your doctor helps. This relationship is the key that
can help you feel less frustrated.
Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
Association of America: www.cfids.org