|Chronic Fatigue Syndrome|
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a serious and complex illness that affects many different body systems. "Fatigue" is an inappropriate word to describe the incapacitating exhaustion, extremely poor stamina, generalized weakness, increased viral infections, and cognitive problems that patients experience on a daily basis. CFS is also known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction (CFIDS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
In the United States, CFS/ME
first became recognized as a prominent disorder in 1988 when a case definition
was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CFS/ME differs from the more typical feeling of fatigue because it interferes with a person's ability to participate in the activity of every day life, sometimes for long periods of time. Even the simplest task that uses a small amount of energy can put a person with CFS/ME into bed.
First there must be clinically evaluated, unexplained, persistent fatigue of new or definite onset, that is neither the result of ongoing exertion, nor relieved by rest. This fatigue results in substantial reduction of activities. In addition, four or more of certain symptoms must have persisted for six months and must not have predated the fatigue.
The onset of CFS/ME may be gradual, building over time (months and years), or it can come on so suddenly that the patient can recall the exact date they became ill.
Daily fluctuation of symptoms is common. Patients can be somewhat functional in the morning, but become incapacitated later the same day.
There is no question CFS/ME frequently follows an acute infection, particularly the Epstein-Barr Virus. Other infectious agents may also trigger CFS/ME. Most medical professionals do not feel CFS/ME is contagious, because so few who come in contact with a CFS/ME patient become ill. There is no evidence of transmission of CFS/ME.
As yet, there is no cure, but there are therapies that can relieve discomfort and increase functional capacity!
It is wise to seek sound medical advice from a health professional that understands CFS/ME. Few physicians are knowledgeable about this illness, so it may be best to find a care provider with whom you can develop a proactive relationship. Look for someone who has compassion, the ability to listen, and an openness to learn about CFS/ME. Some patients find it helpful to have a specialist consult with their own doctor on treatment protocol.
There are no blood tests,
x-rays, scans, or laboratory tests that can diagnose CFS/ME. CFS/ME
is diagnosed by careful documentation of medical history, a physical examination,
the exclusion of other illnesses, the exclusion of primary depression,
and by following the CDC guidelines.
It is often a long process to be diagnosed with CFS/ME. However, with further medical research and more care providers listening to their patients, CFS/ME is no longer an unheard of disease.
At the present time, there is no "magic bullet" treatment for CFS/ME, and the primary management continues to be treatment of symptoms, as they arise.
Some Patients find nutritional supplements along with rest beneficial. CFS/ME patients should think of their energy resource a s a "bank" and be aware of how much they have in the "bank". Learning to use energy wisely is necessary! On some days, the only energy in the "bank" is enough to walk to the bathroom and back to the bed or couch.
A credible support contact provides useful medical information as well as compassionate listening.
Use caution and common sense to avoid those who offer a quick fix or cure without scientific support.
With accurate diagnosis and proper treatments, many people with chronic illnesses can learn to manage their symptoms, thereby lessening their pain and fatigue.
Symptoms wax and wane with
Learning about your illness
with empower you to be your own best advocate!
Blood test to diagnose CFS comming soon within the next year.
How can we help you?
The Wisconsin Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association is a non-profit corporation dedicated to assisting patients. Its purpose is to act as a clearinghouse for CFS/ME information within the state of Wisconsin: to assist patients and their families; to encourage communication among agencies, institutions, and concerned individuals; and to promoter research on the cause, cure and ultimate prevention of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The association's newsletter, Lifeline, is published quarterly. It contains information about CFS/ME support contacts, seminars, research, treatment, and political advocacy. The newsletter has a list of books and tapes that can be ordered free of charge from the Association library.
Services available to members include Lifeline newsletter, support group meetings. Educational seminars, and a statewide info network. Membership is yearly, and for those with financial hardship, a waiver of dues is available.
All CFS/ME patients are encouraged to join the WI CFS Association. If we unite to form a larger patient coalition, we can influence governmental decisions about research funding and services for CFS patients.
At a Glance
CFS/ME is not clearly understood by health professionals or by society in general.
CFS/ME varies greatly in its severity and duration. It most often affects the central nervous system and the immune system.
CFS/ME is acknowledged as a serious multisystem illness.
CFS/ME has no know test for diagnosis.
CFS/ME has no known cause.
CFS/ME has no know cure, as yet.
CFS/ME sufferers are still met with skepticism and disbelief.
CFS/ME affects all socioeconomic groups, and people of all ages. There is evidence to suggest that the incidence of the illness is increasing.
CFS/Me is a potentially severe, potentially disabling and potentially chronic condition.
CFS/ME sufferers who are
diagnosed at the early stage of their illness, and receive subsequent understanding,
support, and management, tend to the ones who make the most significant
Possible Overlapping Factors
GWS - Gulf War Syndrome
Centers for Disease Control:
National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases:
CFS Program _ University
National Dysautonomia Research
You Can Support
The Wisconsin CFS Association
For a packet of free information, please contact
Wisconsin CFS Association,
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