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“CFS is a major health and economic threat, second only to AIDS.”
That comment was made by Dr. Byron Hyde during the World’s first CFS symposium in 1990. Since then, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has assumed almost plague-like proportions. Yet, many people still do not acknowledge it as a medical condition at all. So, is CFS a real disease? What causes it? And how can it be effectively treated?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is, according to Emergency Medicine, ‘a multisystem disease that affects the central nervous and immune systems and often the musculoskeleton system.’ The major symptom is a major lack of energy, where the slightest task becomes an incredibly difficult undertaking. Physical pain often results from the slightest touch. Chills, cold sweats and fever are also common. It can last for up to a year and relapses are common. Many sufferers have experienced the frustration of not having their condition recognised, even by the medical community. The average sufferer, in fact, has consulted 16 different physicians before getting a correct diagnosis. Often they are told that they were in perfect health, that they were depressed or under stress. Many, in fact, were packed off to a psychiatrist.

Yet, diagnosing CFS is no easy thing. Fatigue is an extremely common symptom. There is no medical test for CFS. They have, however, identified the following of signs and symptoms that collectively characterize the condition:
(1) Major fatigue lasting for more than 6 months that leads to at least a 50% reduction in activity.
(2) No other medical or psychiatric conditions that could cause the condition.
(3) Low-grade fever
(4) Sore throat
(5) Painful lymph nodes
(6) Muscle pain
(7) Prolonged fatigue after exercise
(8) Headaches
(9) Joint pain
(10) Sleep disturbance
(11) Forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating.

So, what can a sufferer to work their way through this painful and frustrating condition? It is important that they adjust mentally to the unpredictable nature of the condition. They must also conserve their energy to give their body time to heal. Aggressive Rest Therapy, whereby you prepare for future events by getting extra rest in advance, is helpful. Maintain a calm mental outlook. Don’t allow mental stress over your condition pull you backwards. Don’t try to explain your condition to those who don’t see it as a valid illness. Learn to pace yourself, and maintain a healthy diet and endeavour to get in a little gentle exercise. Don’t take this to the point of exertion, however. Above all, try exercise patience and a sense of humor. There is light at the end of the tunnel.