What was once considered laziness or a symptom of Hypochondria, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is finally being recognized as an actual physical disease. Although the “American Medical Association does not have an official position of whether CFS is an illness”, (Mary A. Fischer, 2006) new information and studies suggest that it won’t be long before AMA changes their tune.
Many doctors in the U.S. are now recognizing CFS as a physical problem requiring medical intervention. Many sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are subjected to minimal daily activities, often being homebound because of lack of energy. Many CFS sufferers experience flu-like symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, excessive tiredness, low-grade fevers and muscle pain, as well as vertigo and memory loss. Physicians as of today have few options for treating CFS patients. Most doctors suggest a change in lifestyle, cognitive behavioral therapy and medications primarily used for depression and chronic pain. Some physicians will prescribe stimulants such as Provigil, which is used in Narcolepsy patients, as a way of boosting CFS patients’ energy. None of these drugs however are specifically formulated to treat CFS.
Studies have shown that much like Rheumatoid Arthritis, CFS can be triggered by a physical or mental stressor, and are both characterized as having genes which cause dysfunctional immune systems. Many RA patients suffer from some form of CFS. Studies conducted by the “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found credible evidence of a biological cause for chronic fatigue syndrome.” (Fischer, 2006) It is with this evidence that scientists can now confirm that the body of CFS sufferers does not biologically respond to everyday stressors the way it should. A genetic make up of a CFS sufferer is different than that of a healthy person’s, causing the body to be over stimulated in response to stress. This causes excessive tiredness and other CFS symptoms. With this new information, doctors are more willing to take CFS patients more seriously.
One problem physicians’ face is the actual diagnosis of CFS. Because there is no viable test for CFS, a diagnosis is only achieved after ruling everything else out. As mentioned earlier, once a diagnosis of CFS is made there are only a handful of strategies to help alleviate the symptoms. As of now there are no actual treatments for CFS. However with the latest and most informative study being released in April of this year by the CDC, a cure for CFS is soon to come. “Researchers predict that a diagnostic test and treatment for CFS is only 3-5 years away.” (Fischer, 2006) This is very good news for CFS sufferers. Within a few years doctors will have a reliable diagnostic test; and unlike present medications, doctors will be able to stop CFS symptoms rather than lessen their severity.
For the CFS sufferers, current suggestions for helping reduce symptoms include: light daily exercise, healthy and balanced meals, talking to a doctor about the possibilities of depression or starting depression medication as well as possible stimulants such as Provigil. It won’t be much longer before CFS sufferers will have their lives back. In the meantime don’t allow some uninformed physicians to tell you that CFS is in your head. There are many physicians finally realizing that CFS is an actual debilitating disease that needs medical attention. So if you think you may be suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, make and appointment with a CFS specialist right away, and get your life back. Log onto: http://www.cfids.org/ for more information.