Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an elusive disease that causes extreme tiredness. Those who are affected claim all they can do is lie around. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the cause of CFS though recent developments are shedding new light on this condition.
Finding the Immune System’s Role
A recent study is the first to bring light to the immune systems related to chronic fatigue syndrome. CFS is a multisystem disorder that most researchers and doctors have limited knowledge of. The limited information surrounding CFS has made it hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. Carmen Pariante is a professor of biological psychiatry at King’s College in London. Dr. Pariante states that most patients have reported some sort of infection prior to their severe fatigue.
Around 250,000 people are suffering from CFS in the United Kingdom alone. Roughly 836,000 – 2.5 million people suffer in the U.S. and 17 million worldwide suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.
A Study of the Immune Response
Researchers have tried tracking the route of CFS with a virus in patients. Hepatitis C infections called interpheron alpha were used in these cases. Interpheron alpha is known to affect the body the same way as a strong infection and cause severe fatigue in some people. Researchers followed the immune activity in 55 patients. Patients were followed before, during and after the treatments were given.
Eighteen patients developed long-lasting fatigue. Long lasting fatigue is defined as fatigue lasting longer than six months. This patient group was noted to have a greater immune response. A blood test of these patients showed that these patients had double the average amount of immune cells. These patients were also recorded to have higher immune levels before the study. This may show that some people’s immune systems are prone to an extreme reaction. The genetics of a person may be the reason for this response.
Some patients can be diagnosed anytime up to 10 years after the illness develops. Chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed based on the symptoms which makes it a tricky illness to detect. CFS symptoms are headaches, difficulty concentrating and an inability to engage. These symptoms don’t provide much information to aid diagnosis and make the study of this illness even harder.
People with CFS find pacing helpful in managing this syndrome. Coping with CFS is done by balancing rest and activity to avoid worse symptoms. A strong infection and a major stressful life event are two common causes of CFS.
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