Is your fatigue more than just feeling tired?

The cases of CFS are noted to have increased especially with the onset of the pandemic.
Is your fatigue more than just feeling tired?

BENGALURU: Fatigue due to a busy schedule, travel, illness, or stress is considered normal and usually remedied by rest. However, for some, fatigue may become persistent and debilitating, affecting the quality of life. One such condition is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

CFS is a complex disorder characterised by extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest and can worsen with physical or mental activity. Unlike normal fatigue, CFS can persist for months or even years.

Diagnosing CFS presents significant challenges. Methods like clinical examination, blood tests and scans often fail to pinpoint the issue. Typically, patients describe their symptoms, but are often told by healthcare providers to have no illness.Even in countries with advanced medical technology, CFS remains elusive; and an estimated 90% of cases go undiagnosed. The condition is more prevalent among individuals aged 30-60, with a notable predominance in women.

Awareness about CFS

The causes of CFS aren’t fully understood. Some findings suggest it could be due to some dysfunction in the body’s inflammatory response usually following a viral illness. The cases of CFS are noted to have increased especially with the onset of the pandemic. One of the most significant challenges is the lack of visible symptoms, leading to scepticism from family and healthcare providers. Patients may be wrongly perceived as unmotivated, exacerbating their mental health struggles. Creating a supportive environment is crucial. 

Common symptoms

Fatigue: It should given attention when it lasts for at least six months and does not improve with rest or if it leads to functional impairment.

Post-exertional malaise: Experiencing pain after physical or mental exertion lasting for 24 hours or longer.

Sleep disturbances: Unrefreshing sleep, insomnia, or disturbances in sleep.

Cognitive difficulties: Memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

Orthostatic intolerance: Feeling dizzy or lightheaded upon standing for prolonged periods.

Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, throat pain, feverishness, and painful lymph nodes 

Treatment and management

Various strategies can help manage symptoms. Addressing specific symptoms is one method. For eg., sleep disturbances can be addressed with medication. Mental health challenges associated with CFS can be countered with antidepressants or therapy. A healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, and exercise can help.

(The writer is associate consultant, Internal Medicine, Aster Medcity- Kochi)

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