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Del Mar, CA

Chronic Fatigue in San Marcos, 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 described 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.

Given that no one 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 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 common among women in their 40s and 50s. There's currently no cure, but treatment can relieve 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 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 in some cases develop after a viral infection, no specific kind of infection has been found 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 studied in connection with CFS.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that CFS may be the end stage of multiple different conditions, instead of 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.

Additionally, researchers claim 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 physicians do not know whether this is enough to cause the disorder.

People with CFS can also occasionally have unusual hormone levels. Physicians haven't yet concluded whether this is significant, either.

What are the symptoms of CFS?

Symptoms of CFS vary based on the individual and the extent 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 curable with bed rest.

You will also experience severe 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 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 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 in some cases even disappear entirely, which is referred to as remission. But, 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 challenging 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 resemble several other conditions. Many individuals with CFS do not "look sick," so doctors might not recognize that they actually have a health problem.

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

Ruling out other potential reasons for your fatigue is an essential part of the diagnosis process. 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 mimic symptoms of CFS as well.

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

How is CFS treated?

There's presently no specific cure for CFS.

Everyone has various symptoms and thus might need different types of treatment to manage the disorder and relieve their symptoms.

Treatments include:

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

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

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

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

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

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