Chronic fatigue syndrome
* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
- Systemic exertion intolerance disease
- Myalgic encephalomyelitis
- Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.
Your QuestionWhat are the recommendations for palliative care for myalgic encephalomyelitis? What are the staging levels for this illness?
We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.
Questions on this page
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease or myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a condition that causes extreme, long-lasting fatigue which can limit the ability to participate in ordinary, daily activities. It generally occurs in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40 and is twice as common in women. The main symptom is disabling fatigue that does not improve with rest. 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. The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not known yet, but some researchers have proposed that this condition is caused by viral infections or by immunological, hormonal or mental or psychiatric problems, but none have been proved. It is also believed that there may be a genetic predisposition for this condition and stress-related events act as triggers. Because the symptoms are similar to many conditions that need to be ruled out, the diagnosis make take some time to be made and patients are frequently misunderstood. Affected patients are typically highly functioning individuals who are "struck down" with this disease. There is still no cure for this condition but there are several clinical trials. Current treatment consist on cognitive and/or behavioral therapy and focuses on improving symptoms and may include medications to treat pain, sleep disorders and other associated problems.
Last updated: 11/6/2015
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
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.
Last updated: 10/14/2013
- Chronic fatigue syndrome. MedlinePlus. May 19, 2015; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/chronicfatiguesyndrome.html. Accessed 8/4/2015.
- Hatron PY. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Orphanet. April 2009; http://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?lng=EN&Expert=1983. Accessed 8/4/2015.
- Gluckman SJ, Aronson MD & Park L. Clinical features and diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (systemic exertion intolerance disease). UpToDate. June 29, 2015; http://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-and-diagnosis-of-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-systemic-exertion-intolerance-disease. Accessed 8/4/2015.
- Committee on the Diagnostic Criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Institute of Medicine. Source Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. February, 2015; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25695122. Accessed 11/4/2015.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (cont.). eMedicineHealth. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/chronic_fatigue_syndrome/page6_em.htm. Accessed 5/5/2009.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome. Merch Manual. 2008; http://www.merck.com/mmhe/print/sec25/ch306/ch306b.html?qt=Chronic%20fatigue%20syndromes&alt=sh. Accessed 5/5/2009.