Chronic fatigue syndrome is real, CDC says13 years, 9 months ago
Posted on Nov 07, 2006, 9 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Chronic fatigue syndrome, once thought by some doctors to be a psychological problem or even a excuse for malingerers, is a real disease that affects more than a million Americans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Early diagnosis and treatment of the disease are important for recovery -- even though it is not clear what the best treatments are, CDC officials said during a news conference late last week.
Early diagnosis and treatment of the disease are important for recovery -- even though it is not clear what the best treatments are, CDC officials said during a news conference late last week.
"CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) is a terrible illness that prevents many people from taking part in everyday activities and participating in the things they enjoy," CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said.
"Fortunately, there are therapies for CFS that can reduce much of the pain and suffering," she said.
The CDC launched an awareness campaign about chronic fatigue on Friday and published a dedicated Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/.
Up to 80 percent of people with chronic fatigue do not know they have it, the CDC said. Its causes are unknown but it can cause profound exhaustion, sleep difficulties, and problems concentrating and remembering.
Flu-like symptoms, including pain in the joints and muscles, tender lymph nodes, sore throat and headaches are also common. "A distinctive characteristic of the illness is a worsening of symptoms following physical or mental exertion," the CDC said in a statement.
"Diagnosis is primarily made by taking a patient's medical history, completing a physical exam and lab tests to rule out other conditions," it added.
"The CDC considers chronic fatigue syndrome to be a significant public health concern, and we are committed to research that will lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment of the illness," Gerberding said.
Several other illnesses have symptoms that mimic chronic fatigue, including fibromyalgia syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, neurasthenia, multiple chemical sensitivities, and chronic mononucleosis, the CDC noted.
"There are tens of millions of people with similar fatiguing illnesses who do not fully meet the strict research definition of CFS," the CDC added.
No one therapy works but reducing stress, dietary restrictions, gentle stretching and nutritional supplementation have all been shown to help. Drugs are sometimes prescribed.
"For instance, tricyclic antidepressants may not only improve mood, but may help with sleep and pain," the CDC said. Read Full Story