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Del Mar, CA

Chronic Fatigue in La Jolla, CA

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CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition defined by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn't go away with rest and can not be explained by an underlying medical condition.

CFS can also be described as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).

The causes of CFS aren't fully understood yet. Some theories include viral infection, psychological stress, or a combination of factors.

Given that no single cause has been determined, and since numerous other conditions produce similar symptoms, CFS can be challenging to diagnose.

There are no tests for CFS. Your physician will need to eliminate other causes for your fatigue when determining a diagnosis.

While CFS was previously a controversial diagnosis, it's now widely accepted as a medical condition.

CFS can affect anyone, though it's most frequent amongst women in their 40s and 50s. There's currently no cure, but treatment can alleviate symptoms.

Here's what you need to know about CFS, including symptoms, treatment options, and outlook.

What triggers CFS?

The source of CFS is not known. Researchers speculate that contributing factors might include:

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

It's also possible that some individuals are genetically predisposed to develop CFS.

Though CFS can sometimes develop after a viral infection, no single type of infection has been found to trigger CFS. Some viral infections that have been researched 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 pneumoniae, have also been studied in connection with CFS.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that CFS might be the end stage of several different conditions, as opposed to one specific condition.

In fact, about 1 in 10 people with EBV, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetii infection will develop a condition that fulfills the requirements 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 occasionally have weakened immune systems, but doctors do not know whether this is enough to cause the disorder.

People with CFS can also sometimes have unusual hormone levels. Physicians have not 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 serious enough to interfere with your daily activities.

For CFS to be diagnosed, a dramatically reduced ability to perform your normal daily activities with fatigue must last for at least 6 months. It must not be curable with bed rest.

You will also experience extreme fatigue after physical or mental tasks, which is called post-exertional malaise (PEM). This can last for more than 24 hours after the task.

CFS can also present sleep problems, such as:

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

In addition, you may also experience:

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

Physical symptoms of CFS may 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 sometimes even disappear entirely, 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 difficult to manage your symptoms, but it's possible.

How is CFS diagnosed?

CFS is a very difficult condition to diagnose.

According to the Institute of Medicine, as of 2015, CFS occurs 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 are similar to many other conditions. Many individuals with CFS don't "look sick," so doctors may not realize that they actually have a health condition.

In order to receive a CFS diagnosis, your physician will eliminate other possible causes and review 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.

Ruling out other possible reasons for your fatigue is a vital part of the diagnosis procedure. Some disorders with symptoms that are similar to 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.

Because of the similarities between symptoms of CFS and many other conditions, it's important to not self-diagnose. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They can work with you to get relief.

How is CFS treated?

There's currently no specific cure for CFS.

Everyone has different symptoms and therefore may need various kinds of treatment to manage the disorder and alleviate their symptoms.

Treatments include:

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

Most individuals with CFS will improve over time, especially with treatment, although some people do not make a complete recovery.

It's also likely there will be periods when your symptoms improve or worsen.

Children and young people with CFS/ME are more likely to recover completely.

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

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