Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: evaluation and treatment
Am Fam Physician 2002 Mar 15;65(6):1083-90
Craig T, Kakumanu S.
Department of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey 17033, USA. email@example.com
Severe fatigue is a common complaint among patients. Often, the fatigue is transient or can be attributed to a definable organic illness. Some patients present with persistent and disabling fatigue, but show no abnormalities on physical examination or screening laboratory tests. In these cases, the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) should be considered. CFS is characterized by debilitating fatigue with associated myalgias, tender lymph nodes, arthralgias, chills, feverish feelings, and postexertional malaise.
Diagnosis of CFS is primarily by exclusion with no definitive laboratory test or physical findings. Medical research continues to examine the many possible etiologic agents for CFS (infectious, immunologic, neurologic, and psychiatric), but the answer remains elusive. It is known that CFS is a heterogeneous disorder possibly involving an interaction of biologic systems.
Similarities with fibromyalgia exist and concomitant illnesses include irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and headaches. Therefore, treatment of CFS may be variable and should be tailored to each patient. Therapy should include exercise, diet, good sleep hygiene, antidepressants, and other medications, depending on the patient’s presentation.