Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Fatigue (lack of energy - feeling weak, listless, tired) is a common complaint in various diseases such as anemia, malnutrition, kidney and liver diseases, cancers, infections, etc. An Indian study estimates prevalence of chronic fatigue in 12% Indian women. Transient self-limiting fatigue can occur in some diseases such as viral infections (e.g. flu). Chronic fatigue syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is a disease condition of a new onset fatigue (6 months duration) which is not due to ongoing exertion, is unrelieved by rest and reduces various individual activities. The onset may be abrupt and precipitated by a stressful event. Other conditions that are associated with fatigue include: malaise, muscle pains, joint pains, nonrefreshing sleep, new headache, impairment of memory, lack of concentration, dizziness, nausea and sore throat. The symptoms fluctuate in severity but most patients remain functionally active. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome can occur simultaneously in many patients. Chronic fatigue syndrome does not progress. Most patients improve over time although those achieving full remission are less than 10%. Patient education, proper night-time sleep, pain relief, relaxation techniques, aerobic exercises, and behavioral therapy are all important in management of these patients.