Chronic fatigue syndrome has sometimes been called “yuppie flu” because its victims are often well-educated professionals in their twenties, thirties, and forties. Many are women. Until about 1983, doctors knew next to nothing about this malady and its exact cause is still unknown. Some researchers believed it was caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, whereas others suggest its cause could be a virus that has not yet been identified. Most experts now lean toward a theory of multiple causes.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are:
- Fatigue for at least six months.
- Sore throat.
- Swollen glands.
- Low-grade fever.
- Muscle aches.
- Mild weight loss.
- Short-term memory problems.
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or hypersomnia).
- Confusion, difficulty thinking, inability to concentrate.
Unfortunately, these symptoms could signal any one of many diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome can be diagnosed, therefore, only after other illnesses, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, chronic inflammatory diseases, auto-immune diseases, such as lupus, or psychiatric illnesses have been ruled out. There are no specific laboratory tests as yet, that can diagnose the syndrome.
For some, the symptoms are so debilitating that a normal working life is impossible. Yet others experience only a vague sense of feeling ill. In some cases, symptoms never let up, while in others they come and go.
Until more is known, people with chronic fatigue syndrome are encouraged to do the following:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Learn to manage stress.
- Take good care of their general health.
- Try to lead as normal a life as possible.
- Join a support group of others who have this problem.
Medicines may be prescribed to relieve pain and muscle aches and control fever such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or prescription, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicine. Anti-depressant medicine may also be prescribed. A gradual exercise program, if tolerated, may also be beneficial.