Chronic fatigue syndrome

Alternative Names

CFS; Fatigue – chronic; Immune dysfunction syndrome; Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)

Definition of Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition of prolonged and severe tiredness or weariness (fatigue) that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other conditions.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is unknown. Some researchers suspect it may be caused by a virus, such as Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6). However, no specific virus has been identified as the cause.

Symptoms

Symptoms of CFS are similar to those of most common viral infections (muscle aches, headache, and fatigue). They come on within a few hours or days and last for 6 months or more.

Signs and tests

Physical examination may show:

Treatment

There is currently no cure for CFS. Instead, the symptoms are treated. Many people with CFS experience depression and other psychological problems that may improve with treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)

The long-term outlook for patients with CFS varies and is difficult to predict when symptoms first start. Some patients completely recover after 6 months to a year. Others may take longer for a complete recovery.

Review

Mark James Borigini, MD, Rheumatologist in the Washington, DC Metro area. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/7/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.