Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS, is a complex condition that isn’t related to any other medical condition. In fact it is a diagnosis of exclusion.
This means that there isn’t any known cause or cure or any specific conclusive test that will determine if a person has chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are persistent fatigue that is relieved with sleep or rest, post-exertional fatigue that lasts for more than 24 hours when there wasn’t fatigue after exercise before, muscle aches and pains, joint swelling or redness, sore throat and mild fever.
Unfortunately these symptoms are also similar to other conditions such as diabetes and thyroid conditions.
Another of the criteria to determine if an individual has chronic fatigue is if the symptoms are present for at least six months. Many times doctors will take a history from a person who reports a mild case of the flu or another virus that just never seemed to go away. The person continued to experience fatigue, muscle aches, pain, sore throats and slight fevers over a period of at least six months.
Because of the increased media attention to this condition more and more people are recognizing the symptoms and are reporting them earlier to their physician. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that the numbers of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the U.S. are actually higher than those reported because many people don-t report and others who do are diagnosed with other conditions such as fibromyalgia.
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are similar and sometimes confused. The symptoms are the same just in different proportions for the different illnesses. The diagnosis of each illness will depend upon the type of physician who is consulted and the familiarity of the physician with the different diagnosis.
Before chronic fatigue should be diagnosed other medical conditions should be ruled out. Because chronic fatigue is most prevalent in women between 40 and 50 and because chronic fatigue is one of the hallmark early signs of ovarian cancer, which also strikes women in that age bracket, physicians must be diligent in their evaluation of women when they present with these symptoms.
Women who present with fatigue for shorter periods of time without any other symptoms shouldn’t be sent home to wait for other symptoms to appear but instead should be evaluated to determine if diabetes, ovarian cancer or other medical conditions are present. Successful treatments are more likely if the diagnosis is reached early and treatment is started immediately.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and ovarian cancer are not common co-morbid conditions. However the early signs of ovarian cancer, namely chronic fatigue, can be confused with the more common diagnosis of CFS. Before settling for a diagnosis of CFS when the symptoms are less than six months old individuals and physicians should take care to look for other reasons for the symptoms.
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