Chronic fatigue syndrome is a health problem that affects more people than multiple sclerosis, but few are familiar with the illness. In this article, well be explaining some of the history behind our knowledge of chronic fatigue syndrome as a society so that you can see how our research practices and knowledge of the illness have evolved over the years.
Classification as a Disease
Chronic fatigue syndrome was only recently classified as a type of illness, with the United States Center for Disease Control defining the symptoms of the syndrome in the year of 1988. When they released their information regarding the syndrome, they stated that the problem can be accurately diagnosed by doctors only when certain factors are present: an illness similar to the flu lasting six months or longer is one symptom, as well as a decrease in activity levels of fifty percent or more during that period. If these symptoms are present in an individual and doctors cannot find another reason why they may be experiencing the problems, chronic fatigue syndrome is the diagnosis.
This method of diagnosing patients wasnt as clear-cut as doctors wanted it to be, however, and so the definition of the syndrome was changed in the year 1994. In an attempt to make diagnosing the problem in a more clear-cut manner, the Center for Disease Control changed the definition so that more symptoms needed to be present in order for a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome to be given.
In addition to the symptoms that were present in the 1988 definition, the 1994 definition stated that at least four other symptoms must be present for a diagnosis, which may include trouble concentrating or remembering things, a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, pain and swelling in the muscles or in the joints, no relief from sleep, or headaches that were previously not experienced by the individual.
The new definition also stressed that doctors should ask their patients questions about their lifestyle in order to ensure that the problem that they are experiencing isnt due to a more explainable reason than chronic fatigue syndrome, such as being overworked.
While we are learning more about chronic fatigue syndrome every day, there is a long way to go on our path towards being able to identify the problem in an easy manner. There has not been a universal cure discovered for chronic fatigue syndrome thus far, and many people use a variety of methodologies in order to experience relief from the illness, including medical treatments, therapy, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies such as Tai Chi and herbal remedies.
Researchers continue to toil away trying to find the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmagic bullet that will show what causes chronic fatigue syndrome in individuals so that they will be able to treat it in a more efficient manner by addressing the source of the problem directly. Since the syndrome has only been recently discovered, chances are that the future will hold plenty of answers and relief for the one million Americans that suffer from the syndrome and countless others across the globe.