What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex illness characterised by intense, debilitating and severe physical and mental fatigue that lasts at least six months; it may have a fluctuating nature and no apparent cause. In addition, it seriously interferes with daily activities, does not go away with rest, worsens with exercise and is associated with other general, physical and neuropsychological symptoms. 

Cognitive impairment

The person experiences a loss of concentration, memory and mental agility (cognitive impacts).

Physical impairment

People with chronic fatigue cannot do the same activities as before, such as their everyday work or take part in their favourite sport (physical impact).

Social impact

The condition significantly deteriorates their quality of life, affects their daily activities and can cause social withdrawal and isolation (social impacts).

However the physical element is not a diagnosis for the illness and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome can present a completely healthy appearance.

How many people are affected?

According to studies, it is estimated that 0.3 – 0.5% of the population suffer from CFS and it affects, therefore, between 120,000 and 200,000 people in Spain.

Chronological evolution of disease

  • Firstly, potential patients must have the predisposing factors to the condition.
  • The illness is initiated when the person comes into contact with the triggers.
  • Furthermore, there are factors which course at the same time (presence of one or more diseases, comorbidity) and others that may have an influence on the persistence of the illness.
Substantiated information by:
Joaquín FernándezMedical Internist — Internal Medicine Department

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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