Sunday, March 25, 2012

National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness

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Diane Forrest, RN

I was talking with my aunt the other day and she was telling me about her concern for her friend, a lady she has known since high school.  Several years ago her friend was performing her normal routine tasks, when all of a sudden she had some sort of attack; my aunt described it as a type of electric shock.  Following this attack she began having several problems such as muscle pain, insomnia weakness.  She went to several doctors, and specialists trying to determine what was going on with her body, and why she was feeling the way she was.  She was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).  She finally had a name for her condition, but explaining it to friends and family proved to be another difficult challenge.  Many thought she was just too lazy to want to do anything, while others thought that if she could do one thing, she should be able to do other things too.

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Chronic fatigue syndrome refers to severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other medical conditions.  These symptoms must last for over 6 months before a diagnosis is made.

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Symptoms of CFS include:
  • Feeling extremely tired for more than 24 hours after exercise that would normally be considered easy
  • Feeling un-refreshed after sleeping for a proper amount of time
  • Forgetfulness
  • Concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Joint pain but no swelling or redness
  • Headaches that differ from those you have had in the past
  • Irritability
  • Mild fever (101 degrees F or less)
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle weakness, all over or multiple locations, not explained by any known disorder
  • Sore throat
  • Sore lymph nodes in the neck or under the arms

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Diagnosing CFS is not an easy task.  There are no x-rays or blood tests that confirm the diagnosis; the only way is to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.  There is no treatment for CFS; however there are treatments for the symptoms such as medication for pain, depression and anxiety.  Also a healthy diet and sleep management actions are helpful.  Patients may also benefit from working with health care providers to determine a safe type of exercise regime as well as trying to maintain social activities.  The expected outcome for this condition also varies.  Some people may recover in 6 months to a year, while some may never get back to their previous state before CFS.  Long term effects include depression, isolation, and side effects from medications.

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Today is National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness day.  For more information about CFS, click here:

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