Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Alternate Names : CFS, Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as CFS, is a poorly understood condition that results in severe fatigue and other symptoms.
What is going on in the body?
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is not known, although many theories exist. It is a chronic condition with an unpredictable course. It is not diagnosed until other medical conditions that cause fatigue are excluded. Treatment is limited by a lack of understanding of the disease process itself.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown. It is most likely that a combination of factors, rather than one single factor, brings about CFS in an individual. The list of possible factors includes the following:
Low blood pressure caused by the autonomic nervous system may cause CFS. It is more prevalent in people with CFS than in the general population.
Immune disorders, such as allergies or an autoimmune disorder, may cause CFS. An autoimmune disorder is a condition in which the person creates antibodies against his or her own tissue.
Infection alone does not cause CFS. However, an infection may be one of multiple causes that bring about CFS in an individual.
Nutritional deficiencies may play a role in causing CFS. However, there is no definitive proof.
Stress stimulates centers in the brain, known as the hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis. These centers produce cortisol and other hormones. Overstimulation from stress may influence the immune system to bring on CFS.
New research findings suggest that autoimmune disorders may be triggered by a transfer of cells between the fetus and the mother during pregnancy. The study involved women with scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder involving the skin. These women have more fetal cells in their blood decades after a pregnancy than women who don't have scleroderma. While further research is needed to substantiate these findings, the study does offer an explanation for the much higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in women than in men.