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The condition characterized by almost constant tiredness is usually referred to as chronic fatigue and is a part of a specific syndrome called chronic fatigue syndrome. What exactly is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), is a syndrome characterized by extremely low levels of energy over a prolonged period, affecting the central nervous system (CNS), immune system, and many other systems and organs.

Incidence Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Several studies in the United States have found between 75 and 420 cases of chronic tiredness syndrome for every 100,000 adults. Research also proved that 60 to 85% of all patients are women. Members of ethnic minorities and low-income classes are slightly more likely to develop this problem. [1]

Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The most common symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome is certainly constant tiredness and profound, overwhelming exhaustion, both mental and physical, which is worsened by exertion and is not relieved by rest. [2]

There are many other symptoms that could be a part of this syndrome, and the most common ones are [2]:

Pain

Pain in this syndrome is very common and present in almost all cases. It may include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Lymph node pain 
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Some patients have also experienced bone, eye and testicular pain, neuralgia and painful skin sensitivity. 

Cognitive problems

This doesn’t happen very often, but people with chronic fatigue syndrome may experience some cognitive problems and some of the most common symptoms are forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty thinking and concentration difficulties. Some experts have also reported possible aphasia, agnosia, loss of cognitive body map and other neurological symptoms. [2, 3]

Hypersensitivity

It is reported that some people with chronic fatigue syndrome are sensitive to light, sound, and some chemicals and foods. [4]

Poor temperature control

Several studies have proven that people with chronic fatigue syndrome often have big problems with controlling their body temperature. For example, they report big temperature fluctuations. This is probably due to the involvement of the hypothalamus whose malfunction may be the cause of the syndrome. However, a study has proven that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have normal core body temperatures despite frequent self-reports of subnormal body temperature and low-grade fever. [4]

Sleep problems

One of the most common symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome is unrefreshing sleep. Some people also report insomnia and difficulties in maintaining a sleep schedule.Common complaints are [5]: 

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Frequent awakening
  • Intense and vivid dreams
  • Restless legs and/or nocturnal myoclonus (night-time muscular spasm)

Psychological  symptoms

Some of the most common psychological problems associated with chronic fatigue syndrome are [6]:

  • Emotional fluctuations
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Emotional flattening

In addition, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have been reported to be more likely to have psychiatric diseases such as major depressive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and personality disorder.

Hormone disturbances 

Experts are saying that some abnormalities in the autonomic nervous system are very common. The most commonly reported are low blood volume, orthostatic intolerance, dizziness and light-headedness, especially when standing up quickly. Hormonal abnormalities may include abnormal vasopressin metabolism, abnormal ACTH response leading to hypothyroidism, and a reduced ability to respond to physiological and emotional stress. [7]

Other symptoms

There are several less frequent symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Bloating
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes and mouth

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