The illness was once known as "yuppie flu" and chronic Epstein-Barr syndrome because of its suspected link to that viral disease. But more than 15 years after chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) entered the public eye, researchers learned the disorder is more than burnout among young urban professionals, and it's not virus-related.
Even though the cause is still unknown, CFIDS still carries a stigma, which frustrates people with the illness.
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Imagine feeling bone-tired for months, no matter how much sleep you get.
Picture being able to accomplish only half as much each day as you used to--with nothing obvious to account for your exhaustion. That's life for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition marked by excessive, prolonged fatigue that is not lessened with rest or caused by another condition. It is two to four times more common in females than males and usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 50.
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Learning you have a chronic disease is frightening. Depending on what it is and the treatment options available, you may feel panicked or sad at best.
But learning about your condition and doing your best to manage it can help you live a less fearful and more expansive life.
Understanding chronic conditions
Unlike acute illnesses such as sore throats, a cold or the flu, which are largely treatable and short in duration, chronic conditions can last for months, years or a lifetime.
Diseases such as arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, hepatitis C, AIDS and certain cancers are some familiar chronic illnesses. Some lesser known ones include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and Parkinson's disease.
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CFS diagnosis depends on two criteria:
Severity and duration: The severe and chronic tiredness lasts for more than six months and other medical conditions have been ruled out.
Number of symptoms: The patient has four or more of the symptoms of CFS.
A specific treatment for CFS has yet to be proven effective. Vitamin supplements and medications have some therapeutic benefit for some CFS patients, but many treatments just alleviate the symptoms of CFS.
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