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Del Mar, CA

Chronic Fatigue in Oceanside, CA

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CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue or exhaustion that does not go away with sleep and can not 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 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 several other conditions generate similar symptoms, CFS can be difficult 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 disorder.

CFS can impact anyone, though it's most common amongst females in their 40s and 50s. There's currently no cure, however treatment can relieve symptoms.

What triggers CFS?

The source of CFS is not known. Researchers hypothesize that contributing factors may 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 identified to cause CFS. Some viral infections that have been researched in connection with 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 researched in connection with CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that CFS might be the end stage of multiple 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 fulfills the requirements for a CFS diagnosis. Additionally, researchers say that those who've had severe symptoms with any of these three infections are at a greater risk for later developing CFS.

People with CFS sometimes have weakened immune systems, but doctors don't know whether this is enough to cause the disorder. People with CFS can also in some cases have abnormal hormone levels. Physicians have not yet concluded whether this is significant, either.

What are the symptoms of CFS?

Symptoms of CFS differ based on the individual and the severity of the condition. The most prevalent symptom is fatigue that's serious enough to interfere with your everyday activities.

For CFS to be diagnosed, a dramatically reduced ability to execute your typical daily activities with fatigue must last for a minimum of 6 months. It must not be curable with bed rest. You will also experience extreme fatigue after physical or mental activities, which is called post-exertional malaise (PEM). This can last for more than 24 hours after the activity.

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 include:

  • 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 people in cycles, with periods of feeling worse and then better. Symptoms might in some cases even disappear entirely, which is referred to as remission. But, it's still possible for symptoms to return later on, 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 about 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 tests to screen for CFS. Its symptoms are similar to many other disorders. Many people with CFS don't "look sick," so doctors might not realize that they actually have a health problem.

In order to receive a CFS diagnosis, your physician will eliminate other potential 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.

Eliminating other potential causes of your fatigue is a key part of the diagnosis procedure. Some conditions 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 physician regarding 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 might need different types of treatment to manage the condition and relieve their symptoms.

Treatments include:

  • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • a structured exercise programme called graded exercise therapy (GET)
  • medication to control pain, nausea and sleeping problems

Most individuals with CFS will improve with 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. 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 Oceanside, California, please visit our website at or give us a call at (760) 274-2377

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