Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a physical condition of extreme fatigue and tiredness that doesn’t go away even after taking sufficient rest or sleeping. The primary cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is yet to be known. Some research in this field has attributed viral infections with prolonged related symptoms, psychological conditions like stress and depression, or a combination of some physical and psychological issues as the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome.(1,2)
Chronic fatigue syndrome is also referred to as Systematic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). Since no precise indications are available for this disease; medical practitioners sometimes find it difficult to detect the disease. They depend on symptoms and differential diagnosis for coming to a conclusion.(5)
What Makes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome More Likely?
Anyone can get chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis anytime. Medical practitioners have pointed out certain triggering factors that enhance chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Genetic Factors That Make Chronic Fatigue Syndrome More Likely: Although not yet conclusive, it is considered that chronic fatigue syndrome can pass through the genes. It is very much possible that some individuals inherit weak genes from any one of their parents. It is noticed that individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome have irregular genetic activities. This may happen due to the weak built of certain genes. The effect of the same disease varies from human to human because of differences in the immunity that depends on how genes respond to an adverse condition. In chronic fatigue syndrome, it is marked that the genetic response within the WBC and nervous system is not prompt. This makes genetic factors an important part of chronic fatigue syndrome.(3)
- Age: Chronic fatigue syndrome generally does not attack children and adolescents. It is more of an adult problem than children. People within the age group of 40-70 years are at higher risk. Among children, girls within the age group of 10-15 years are found to be at higher risk than the same age group boys; however, such incidents are rare.(1,5)
- Gender As A Factor That Makes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome More Likely: Women are five times more prone to chronic fatigue syndrome than men. Though, such proneness depends on the age of the person as well.(2)
- Geographical Locations Making Chronic Fatigue Syndrome More Likely: Studies have revealed that chronic fatigue syndrome is more prevalent in Europe, North America, and South America, especially among white populations of these continents than non-white populations. Cases of this disease are lower in Asia and Africa.(4)
- Infections As A Major Factor That Makes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome More Likely: Some infectious diseases like Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the human parvovirus B19, and the Human Herpesvirus (HHV)-6 are found to be closely related to chronic fatigue syndrome which means that these infections can enhance the risk of chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Changes in Immunity: Some alternations have been marked in B cell subsets in the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Such subsets include activated CD5+, CD19+, and CD 21+ B cells. At the same time, transitional B cells decrease in number, and incidents of plasmablasts also decrease. So, changes in the immune system with these alterations can cause chronic fatigue syndrome.(1)
Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Adaptive Pacing Therapy (APT) are frequently followed for the treatment of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Confusion and debate on the actual causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are still going on as research outcomes are showing inconsistent results. In this condition, medical practitioners have no alternative but to depend on their experience and differential diagnosis and provide symptomatic relief.