Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

Discover the Difference Between Sleepiness and Fatigue

Chronic Fatigue (also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS) is a syndrome where a person feels very "tired" no matter how much he sleeps or rests.

Fatigue, Tiredness and Sleepiness

The chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms appear to be more severe than fatigue commonly experienced by healthy people.

Some persons confuse excessive fatigue symptoms with excessive daytime sleepiness. They don't know exactly what are the difference between them, and they try to treat their fatigue with ineffective treatments.

The difference between Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue

Fatigue is the inability to sustain an effort which may be emotional, mental or physical. And if you try to cure your fatigue with sleep you'll see that it doesn't necessarily work every time. However, sleep normally relieves sleepiness.

Sleepiness is not fatigue. It's a common symptom that can appear in certain circumstances such as relaxing after a meal in the early afternoon, and a short nap can relieve it.

However, if you feel fatigue and try to sleep, you'll realize that it's difficult to fall asleep. And this happens because you're not sleepy.

Scientists know that if you have at least six months of persistent fatigue that substantially reduces your level of activity, then is very probably to have chronic fatigue syndrome.

This is video is from a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome and explains how do you feel when you have this disorder:

What are the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms?

People often describe CFS in different ways:

  • depression
  • limitation of functioning
  • frustration
  • loss of control
  • irritability
  • pain
  • discouragement
  • sadness
  • physical weakness
  • permanent fatigue

These words clearly reflect the diminished quality of life of people with chronic fatigue syndrome. However, a person with a normal form of fatigue may use other words to describe his or her complaints, such as:

  •     sleepy
  •     insomnia
  •     amotivational
  •     comfortable
  •     temporary fatigue

Disorders that causes similar symptoms with CFS

Fatigue appears due to abnormalities within the central nervous system. The symptoms of chronic fatigue are involved not only with coordination and anticipation of movements, but also with understanding and processing the information from around you.

There are certain disorders that cause these abnormalities, such as:

  • head injuries,
  • Parkinson,
  • cancer,
  • multiple sclerosis,
  • HIV,
  • depression,
  • chronic fatigue syndrome,

Others Symptoms from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In addition to those words of complaints, there are at least four of the following symptoms that appear when you have chronic fatigue syndrome:

  • headache
  • aching or stiff muscles
  • impaired memory or concentration
  • nausea
  • multi-joint pain
  • sore throat
  • non-restorative sleep
  • tender glands
  • dizziness
  • night sweats
  • intolerance to alcohol
  • intense and long-lasting fatigue
  • sleep disturbance

More about the chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms can be found on this video from NHS:

The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Scientists have widely reports about the link between sleep disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Moreover, they found that about sixty percent of the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have or had a primary sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or hypopnea syndrome.

Almost every person with chronic fatigue complained about restless sleep, insomnia, and difficulty to maintain the sleep.

If you have sleep apnea and chronic fatigue syndrome, you may be interested to know if treating sleep apnea can also treat chronic fatigue symptoms.

This is an interesting question that scientists tried to answer. They selected two groups of patients:

  • those with chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep apnea or hypopnea syndrome
  • and those with chronic fatigue who had no diagnosable sleep apnea.

The scientists compared these two groups, evaluating their behavior. There where no difference between them.

Next, the patients with chronic fatigue and sleep apnea were offered a three month treatment program with CPAP.

And now, let's find their answer: after their three month period, the patients who had CPAP treatment where compared with those who din not have any treatment. There was no difference between their chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms, although their sleep apnea was treated. 

Bottom line... Treating sleep apnea doesn't mean you will also treat the chronic fatigue syndrome. The fatigue symptoms will persist until you'll receive a proper treatment.

› Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

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