Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Essay

1894 words - 8 pages

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Thankfully, it is hard for most people to imagine a tiredness and weakness of body that would keep one confined to a bed. There are people today who have lived a very active lifestyle for years and have suddenly found themselves burdened by a feeling of bodily weariness they never knew was possible. It all happens so swiftly and surprisingly that many are terrified by these changes taking place.

CFS, otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is this illness characterized by debilitating fatigue. At times, this disease is also referred to as chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), or chronic Epstein-Barr virus (CEBV). However, no matter what it is called, it remains a nightmare for those who battle it every day. Many aspects of CFS still baffle medical experts. What is it? How is it diagnosed? What is it caused by, and how is it treated? Many of these questions remain unanswered for those who suffer with it in the Ohio area. Some have grown weary and frustrated, both from the illness and the mixed messages they receive about it.

The major symptoms of CFIDS include headache, sore throat, fever, weakness, lymph node pain, muscle and joint pain, memory loss, and difficulty in concentrating (Holmes, et al., 1988). In order to be diagnosed with CFS, an individual must not have malignancy, endocrine disease, drug abuse, or cardiac, gastrointestinal, renal, and hematological diseases, and various other ailments (Case definition). As a result of this listing, CFS is extremely difficult to diagnose for the doctor as well as the patient. The syndrome resembles so many other health factors, that each must be eliminated, which can take quite a bit of time.

The majority of CFS patients begin with sudden symptoms, resembling a mild cold or influenza. The degree of severity in these symptoms differs widely among patients, and may vary over time within a single patient (CFS FAQ). One can simply become tired, while others may be totally bedridden and disabled from fatigue. Sometimes the body is better, so the individual can lead an almost normal lifestyle, but then days or weeks later this strength may easily wane.

The true cause of this illness is not yet known. Several studies in the 1980's tried to link CFS with the Epstein-Barr virus (CFS pamphlet). This virus is one in the family of herpes viruses, and EBV infection are almost inevitable in all humans. However, more recently it has been found that some CFS patients lack the EBV antibodies, which means they never had this virus (Bell, 1994). Therefore, there has been no consistent link found between elevated EBV antibodies and the presence of CFS.

Other viruses have been associated with CFS as well. In the published research results (Holmes, et al, 1988) findings suggest that the recently discovered herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) is higher in patients with CFS than in control groups. The higher level of HHV6 does not necessarily suggest that this viral...

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