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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between Normal Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Nothing much during the first few days. Normal fatigue is the feeling of exhaustion which is usually caused by physical exertion, mental stress and sickness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, on the other hand, is a group of symptoms or conditions that result to various other symptoms such as decreased mental acuity and flu-like illness and excessive fatigue. A type that will not afford its sufferers with enough energy to move freely. The difference between the two is demonstrated once full-blown symptoms occur and when they last for at least 6 months, that's when it becomes chronic.

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

There are various symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and in order to determine the presence of this condition, a patient must possess at least four of the following: post-exertional malaise which persists for more than 24 hours, muscle pains, joint pain, sleep difficulties or sleep that does not lend energy to the individual, frequent severe headaches, sore throat that is persistent and recurring, decreased mental clarity, poor memory and impaired concentration, and tenderness of the lymph nodes that are located in the neck and armpit.

What are The Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

While the exact causes of CFS are not yet identified, there are strong indications that cause can be divided into three types: immune system-related, viral and non-viral pathogens and stress-related. There are also indications that CFS is triggered by the combination of these causes. For some people, the onset of the condition begins after contracting an infection; for others it begins after a prolonged period of exposure to stress.

There are also some patients who had weakened immune system which made it easier for the symptoms to develop and progress to worse conditions. Current studies are trying to find out whether genetics, emotional distress and immunological conditions are related with the disorder.

Is There a Cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

As of yet, cures for CFS are still being developed. Thus, treatment for the condition is basically focused on alleviating the symptoms.

Conventional Approach to Treating Chronic Fatigue

The conventional approach to treating chronic fatigue often focuses on symptom management rather than addressing the underlying causes of the condition. Healthcare providers may prescribe medications to alleviate specific symptoms, such as pain, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties. While these interventions can provide temporary relief, they do not necessarily address the root causes of chronic fatigue. Additionally, conventional treatments may lack a personalized approach, as they often fail to take into account the individual's unique health history, lifestyle factors, and potential hidden contributors to the condition.

Functional Medicine Approach to Treating Chronic Fatigue

In contrast to the conventional approach, functional medicine adopts a comprehensive and patient-centered perspective when treating chronic fatigue. Functional medicine practitioners view the body as an interconnected system, where imbalances in one area can impact overall health. Instead of merely managing symptoms, functional medicine seeks to identify the underlying factors contributing to chronic fatigue, which may include hormonal imbalances, gut dysfunction, undiagnosed autoimmune conditions, and more. Functional medicine practitioners conduct thorough assessments to uncover these hidden contributors, utilizing advanced diagnostic testing and a detailed understanding of the patient's health history.

How is Diagnosis Made?

Since there are no laboratory, diagnostic and medical examinations and tests that are used in the diagnosis of CFS, health care providers use the principle of exclusion in determining the presence of the condition. Through this method, all diseases, illnesses and conditions that are known to have symptoms similar with CFS are ruled out. Diagnosis is only made once the symptoms of the patients match with the case definition.

Where Can I Get Help?

You can get help from health care providers who are knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating CFS. Support groups for patients of CFS are also available.

Areas Served

Dr. Pedro Gonzalez, MD is based in Chicago/Illinois, and serves patients throughout Illinois, Florida and Texas. These areas include but are not limited to Chicago Loop, Lincoln Park, Near North Side, River North, West Town, Streeterville, Lake View, Logan Square, Little Village, Bridgeport, Oak Park, Oakbrook, Harwood Heights, Arlington Heights, Bucktown, Old Town, Maywood, Lincoln Square, Edgewater, Evanston, Cook County, Lake County.

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