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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Common yet Underdiagnosed Condition

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Mason Walker
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Common yet Underdiagnosed Condition

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the first nationally representative estimate indicating that approximately 3.3 million U.S. adults are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This report has thrown light on the fact that CFS is not an uncommon condition and could potentially be linked to long COVID cases.

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What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue that is not alleviated by rest. This fatigue persists for a prolonged period and is severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Besides fatigue, individuals with CFS often experience other symptoms like pain, cognitive difficulties, which are often referred to as 'brain fog', and various other symptoms. The exact cause of this condition is still a subject of ongoing research, but it is speculated to be linked to an overreaction to an infection or an abrupt shock to the immune system.

Who is at Risk?

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The CDC report suggests that CFS is more common in women than men, and in white people compared to some other racial and ethnic groups. However, it challenges the long-standing notion that CFS is predominantly a rich white woman's disease. Survey data reveals that women and individuals with lower incomes are more likely to suffer from CFS. Furthermore, people residing in more rural communities are also more likely to have this condition.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Long COVID

The CDC report draws attention to the possible connection between long COVID and CFS. It suggests that these two conditions might be the same illness given their strikingly similar symptom profiles. Long COVID, which is becoming widely accepted by doctors, is diagnosed more quickly as its symptoms mirror those of CFS. It is estimated that up to half of the individuals diagnosed with long COVID might also develop CFS.

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Challenges in Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing and treating CFS poses significant challenges. There are currently no approved drugs or standardized treatment guidelines for this condition. The symptoms of CFS are often non-specific and can mimic other conditions, leading to difficulties in diagnosis. Moreover, the lack of awareness and understanding of CFS among healthcare professionals often leads to underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis.

The Impact of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome can have a profound impact on individuals' lives. It often leads to absence from school or work, decreased productivity, and an overall reduction in health and well-being. The societal and economic cost of this condition is significant and warrants urgent attention from public health authorities.

As the CDC continues to shed light on the prevalence of CFS, it becomes increasingly important for healthcare professionals to educate themselves about this condition. Increased awareness and understanding can lead to improved diagnosis, care, and management of CFS, thereby improving the lives of millions of individuals affected by this condition.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Long COVID
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