Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex condition that is often difficult for doctors and patients to diagnose. The symptoms can appear to be those of other medical conditions, especially fibromyalgia. Both of these conditions have similar symptoms but with different proportions.
For example, fatigue is a symptom that is common to both diagnosis but in chronic fatigue syndrome it is at a greater degree than the fatigue that people with fibromyalgia experience. The fatigue that a person with CFS experiences isn’t restored by sleep or rest. In fact, most people with CFS complain that it is difficult to wake up in the morning and get out of bed.
Another symptom that is common to both conditions is joint pain. People with CFS may suffer from joints that are red and swollen while people with fibromyalgia may suffer from more generalized joint pain but have tender points over specific muscular areas.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can also include cognitive difficulties. These include problems with short-term memory and concentration. They often complain that they can’t get their mind to focus on the task at hand and may forget things that happened earlier that day. They also have word find problems, or problems finding the right word to use in a sentence during normal conversation.
Chronic fatigue syndrome also affects the ability of the sufferer to recover from exertion that didn’t affect them prior to developing these symptoms. This post exertional fatigue can affect them for up to 24 hours after the exercise when prior to developing CFS they wouldn’t have been tired at all.
Sufferers of CFS also complain of depression. Doctors aren’t sure if the depression is related to the condition or as a result of the symptoms that the patient must suffer each day. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there are between 1 and 4 million people who suffer from CFS. They also estimate that this number is lower than it should be because many people don’t seek medical advise for their problems.
The CDC also has found that there are approximately 25% of those people diagnosed with CFS who are either unemployed or on disability because they are unable to work. People with CFS will also suffer from headaches, sore throat and muscle aches that contribute to their disability and difficulty in holding a job.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome can also include a mild fever that continues for several days or weeks. These fevers are low grade and can contribute to the overall general malaise the patient may feel.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disease that has no current causative agent identified and no known cure. Doctors are able to help patients decrease their symptoms and give them supportive care to increase their ability to work productively.