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May is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month

Once known as "the yuppie flu", Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is now well recognized as a serious, often disabling, chronic illness. It is marked by exhaustion, muscle pain, "brain fog," and several other physical symptoms following an acute flu-like illness. Fatigue, sore throat, headaches, and fatigue lasting more than 24 hours following exertion are classic symptoms.

Nearly 800,000 patients are affected by chronic fatigue syndrome, and it is about 3 times more common in women than men.  Some patients are bedridden; others can work or attend school at least part time, since any exertion typically worsens their symptoms.  Women's world cup soccer champion Michelle Akers is the exception, but she managed to play elite soccer only with constant medical attention.  Unfortunately, many sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome are denied care or disability insurance benefits because doctors and employers fail to take this condition seriously.

There is no blood test for chronic fatigue syndrome. . .And the cause is unknown.  The diagnosis is often missed-but it is correctly made when the symptoms persist for more than 6 months and cannot be attributed to another cause.

Research is being done on many fronts, but much about this disease remains a mystery. Even the most promising treatments are only marginally effective. 

For related information, click here.

Created: 3/20/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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