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Del Mar, CA

Chronic Fatigue in Orange County, CA

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CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disorder defined by extreme fatigue or tiredness that does not go away with rest 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 one cause has been identified, and since many other conditions produce similar symptoms, CFS can be difficult 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 affect anyone, though it's most frequent amongst females in their 40s and 50s. There's currently no cure, but treatment can relieve symptoms.

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

What causes CFS?

The source of CFS is unknown. Researchers hypothesize that contributing factors may include:

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

It's even possible that some people are genetically predisposed to develop CFS.

Though CFS can occasionally 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 indicated that CFS may be the end stage of several various conditions, instead of one specific disorder.

In fact, about 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.

Individuals 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 sometimes have unusual hormone levels. Physicians have not yet concluded whether this is significant, either.

What are the symptoms of CFS?

Symptoms of CFS vary based on the individual and the severity of the condition.

The most common symptom is fatigue that's serious enough to interfere with your daily activities.

For CFS to be diagnosed, a significantly reduced ability to execute your usual everyday activities with fatigue has to last for a minimum of 6 months. It must not be treatable with bed rest.

You will also experience severe fatigue after physical or mental activities, which is referred to as 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 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 include:

  • muscle pain
  • frequent 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 vanish entirely, which is referred to as remission. However, 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 occurs 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 several other disorders. Many individuals with CFS don't "look sick," so doctors might not recognize that they indeed have a health problem.

In order to receive a CFS diagnosis, your physician will rule out 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 severity of your unexplained fatigue.

Eliminating other possible causes of your fatigue is a vital 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
  • severe obesity
  • sleep disorders

The side effects of particular drugs, such as antihistamines and alcohol, can mimic symptoms of CFS also.

Due to the similarities between symptoms of CFS and many other disorders, it's important to not self-diagnose. Consult with 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.

Everyone has various symptoms and thus may require various types of treatment to manage the condition 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 people 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 periods when your symptoms get better or worse.

Kids and young people with CFS/ME are more likely to recover fully.

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

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