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.
The person experiences a loss of concentration, memory and mental agility (cognitive impacts).
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).
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 have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
According to studies, it is estimated that 0.3 – 0.5% of the population suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and it affects, therefore, between 120,000 and 200,000 people in Spain.
Alternate names for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Some of the alternate names for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are:
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) (a name often used in Anglo-Saxon countries).
Post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS).
Altitude sickness or Da Costa’s syndrome.
Gulf War syndrome.
In 2015, the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) proposed the name Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (Clayton E.W., JAMA 1346. 10/2/2015), but this has not yet been accepted by the scientific community or the WHO.
And what isn’t chronic fatigue?
The illness was incorrectly known as neurasthenia in the nineteenth century.
There is also a tendency for the incorrect use of the term asthenia instead of fatigue, it is not recommended as they are not the same thing. Asthenia is a feeling that can be overcome by the patient, whereas fatigue is not.