Also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Although classified by the World Health Organization under Diseases of the nervous system, the etiology (cause or origin) of CFS is currently unknown and there is no known cure.
Fatigue is a common symptom in many illnesses, but the fatigue experienced by those with CFS is intense and often unrelenting. It exists without any physical exertion and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It exceeds the mere ‘tiredness’ that most people experience and can be debilitating.
Primary Symptoms (These occur frequently and persist for long periods of time)
- Unexplained, persistent fatigue that causes a significant reduction in daily activities.
- Impaired memory or concentration, brain fog
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
- Unrefreshing sleep – Waking up and still feeling exhausted
- Widespread, chronic muscle pain
- Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
Secondary Symptoms (These occur less frequently, often sporadically)
- Sore throat, frequent or recurring
- Painful and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
- Irritable bowel, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea ,bladder disturbances
- Chills and night sweats
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath and asthma
- Chronic cough
- Tingling sensations
- Dizziness, balance problems or fainting
- Psychological problems (depression, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)
Symptoms of CFS may peak and stay stable for a period of time and then fade again. there is no trigger for the onset of these symptoms, they can be completely irregular and unpredictable.
Functioning, disability and health
Patient with CFS have reported significant reductions in their level of physical activity, as well as the complexity of the activities they choose to participate in. Often patients with CFS will avoid certain activities which they know will worsen their pain. While some patients lead relatively normal lives, others are totally bed-ridden and unable to care for themselves. Employment rates vary with over half unable to work and nearly two-thirds limited in their work because of their illness. More than half were on disability benefits or temporary sick leave, and less than a fifth work full-time.