What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition involving extreme fatigue and numerous other symptoms that is of undetermined origin. There is some medical evidence that CFIDS may be autoimmune in nature. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association has identified it as autoimmune, due to the inflammatory nature of the condition, coupled by the fact that more than half of those with CFIDS test positive for autoimmune disease.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is known by many names:

  • Chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction (or dysregulation) syndrome (CFIDS)
  • British-European name, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)
  • Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV)” or “chronic mononucleosis”
  • Post-infectious neuromyasthenia
  • Postviral fatigue syndrome
  • Sometimes referred to derogatorily as “yuppie flu”
  • Proposed new name for the condition that is gaining acceptance is Neuroendocrineimmune Dysfunction Syndrome (NDS)

For an official diagnosis of CFS, there must be extreme fatigue that is medically unexplained; of new onset; lasts at least six months; is not the result of ongoing exertion; is not substantially relieved by rest; and causes a substantial reduction in activity levels. In addition to this extreme fatigue, for a diagnosis of CFS, there must also be four or more of the following symptoms:

  • Substantially impaired memory/concentration;
  • Sore throat;
  • Tender neck or armpit lymph nodes;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity;
  • Unrefreshing sleep;
  • Relapse of symptoms after exercise (also known as post-exertional malaise) that lasts more than 24 hours; and
  • Pain in multiple joints without joint swelling or redness

According to the CFIDS Association of America, physicians believe CFS is as disabling, or even more debilitating than lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and similar chronic conditions.