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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Chronic fatigue syndrome


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis
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Your Question

What are the recommendations for palliative care for myalgic encephalomyelitis?  What are the staging levels for this illness?

Our Answer

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What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that causes extreme, long-lasting fatigue which can limit the ability to participate in ordinary, daily activities.[1] It generally occurs in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40.[2] The main symptom of this condition is disabling fatigue that does not improve with rest.[2] Other signs and symptoms may include muscle pain; joint pain; concentration and memory problems; headaches; sleep problems; fever; sore throat; and/or tender lymph nodes.[1][2] The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not known, but it has been proposed that infectious agents, immune system impairment and/or hormonal system deregulation may be involved.[2] There is no cure for this condition; the goal of treatment is to improve symptoms. Medications may be used to treat pain, sleep disorders and other associated problems.[1]
Last updated: 10/14/2013

What are the recommendations for pallitative care for people with chronic fatigue syndrome?

At this time the underlying cause for chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, also the symptoms and condition severity is highly variable among patients. As a result it is a challange to create a single pallitative care guideline that can be applied with successful results to all. Instead, a person with chronic fatigue syndrome should talk to their doctor about the symptoms that are most disruptive or disabling to them, so that their doctor can tailor their management plan accordingly. Treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome can be directed toward the most problematic symptoms as prioritized by the patient, but only after underlying conditions applicable to those symptoms have been investigated and excluded.
Last updated: 10/14/2013

What are the staging levels for this illness?

We are not aware of standardized staging criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome. Just as the symptoms and severity of this syndrome vary, so does its clinical course. The percentage of people who completely recover from chronic fatigue syndrome is not known, however most people have improvement in their symptoms over time with proper treatment strategies and regular care. People with chronic fatigue syndrome may cycle through periods of relief and periods of illness.[3][4]
Last updated: 10/14/2013