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Carmel Valley, CA

Chronic Fatigue in Carlsbad, CA

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CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn't go away with rest and can't be explained by an underlying medical condition. CFS can also be referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).

The causes of CFS aren't completely understood yet. Some theories include viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of factors. Since no one cause has been identified, and since numerous other conditions generate similar symptoms, CFS can be hard to diagnose.

There are no tests for CFS. Your doctor will have to rule out other causes for your fatigue when determining a diagnosis. While CFS was previously a controversial diagnosis, it's currently widely accepted as a medical disorder.

CFS can impact anyone, though it's most typical amongst women in their 40s and 50s. There's currently no cure, however treatment can alleviate symptoms. Here's what you need to understand about CFS, including symptoms, treatment options, and outlook.

What causes CFS?

The cause of CFS is unknown. Researchers speculate that contributing factors might include:

  • viruses
  • a weakened immune system
  • stress
  • hormone imbalances

It's even possible that some people are genetically predisposed to develop CFS. Though CFS can sometimes develop after a viral infection, no single type of infection has been identified to cause CFS. Some viral infections that have been studied in relation to CFS include those caused by:

  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Human herpesvirus 6
  • Ross River virus (RRV)
  • Rubella virus

Infections caused by bacteria, including Coxiella burnetii and Mycoplasma pneumonia, have also been studied in connection with CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that CFS may be the end stage of several different conditions, rather than one specific condition. In fact, approximately 1 in 10 individuals with EBV, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetii infection will develop a condition that meets the criteria for a CFS diagnosis.

Furthermore, researchers say that those who've had severe symptoms with any of these three infections are at a higher risk for later developing CFS. People with CFS sometimes have weakened immune systems, but doctors do not know whether this is enough to cause the disorder. People with CFS can also sometimes have abnormal hormone levels. Doctors haven't yet concluded whether this is significant, either.

What are the symptoms of CFS?

Symptoms of CFS differ according to the individual and the severity of the condition. The most prevalent symptom is fatigue that's severe enough to disrupt your daily activities.

For CFS to be diagnosed, a dramatically reduced ability to perform your typical everyday activities with fatigue has to last for at least 6 months. It must not be treatable with bed rest. You will also experience extreme fatigue after physical or mental tasks, which is referred to as post-exertional malaise (PEM). This can last for more than 24 hours after the task.

CFS can also introduce sleep problems, such as:

  • feeling unrefreshed after a night's sleep
  • chronic insomnia
  • other sleep disorders

In addition, you might also experience:

  • loss of memory
  • reduced concentration
  • orthostatic intolerance (going from lying or seated to standing positions makes you light-headed, dizzy, or faint)

Physical symptoms of CFS might consist of:

  • muscle pain
  • persistent headaches
  • multi-joint pain without redness or swelling
  • frequent sore throat
  • tender and swollen lymph nodes in your neck and underarms

CFS affects some individuals in cycles, with periods of feeling worse and then better. Symptoms may in some cases even disappear completely, which is referred to as remission. However, it's still possible for symptoms to return later, which is referred to as a relapse. This cycle of remission and relapse can make it challenging to manage your symptoms, but it's possible.

How is CFS diagnosed?

CFS is a very challenging condition to diagnose. According to the Institute of Medicine, as of 2015, CFS develops in approximately 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans. It's estimated, however, that 84 to 91 percent have yet to receive a diagnosis.

There are no medical exams to screen for CFS. Its symptoms resemble several other conditions. Many people with CFS do not "look sick," so doctors may not recognize that they indeed have a health condition.

In order to get a CFS diagnosis, your physician will eliminate other possible causes and discuss your medical history with you. They'll verify that you at least have the core symptoms previously mentioned. They'll also ask about the duration and extent of your unexplained fatigue.

Eliminating other potential causes of your fatigue is an essential part of the diagnosis procedure. Some conditions with symptoms that resemble those of CFS include:

  • mononucleosis
  • Lyme disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • lupus (SLE)
  • hypothyroidism
  • fibromyalgia
  • major depressive disorder
  • extreme obesity
  • sleep disorders

The side effects of particular drugs, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can resemble symptoms of CFS also. Due to the similarities between symptoms of CFS and many other disorders, it's important to not self-diagnose. Talk to your doctor regarding your symptoms. They can work with you to get relief.

How is CFS treated?

There's currently no specific cure for CFS. Each person has various symptoms and thus might require various types of treatment to manage the condition and relieve their symptoms.

Treatments include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • a structured exercise program called graded exercise therapy (GET)
  • medication to manage pain, nausea, and sleeping problems

Most individuals with CFS will improve over time, particularly with treatment, although some people do not make a full recovery. It's also likely there will be durations when your symptoms get better or worse. Kids and young people with CFS/ME are more likely to recover completely.

For further information about Dr. Stengler’s practice and his clinic in Carlsbad, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377

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