Chronic fatigue syndrome might be caused by several viruses, but the exact source is not known to modern medicine. Viruses like the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis and is associated with fatigue also, might in some way be related if not the cause. It is thought that a virus could be interfering with the actions of the body's immune system, or that the nervous system could be suffering some sort of problem. While women tend to be most commonly afflicted, and adult women at that, chronic fatigue syndrome can also be present in children and be a complication of life for both them and their parents.
Chronic fatigue syndrome does have a distinct set of symptoms that accompanies it and does not go with any other disorder. One of the key characteristics is severe fatigue and tiredness, lasting for a length of time, and persisting despite ample rest. This tiredness must not be caused by another illness and must decrease normal expected functioning by about half. The body should be tired and have accompaniment of a headache, muscle aches, and tiredness, and this condition needs to persist for at least six months to qualify for the diagnosis. The tiredness must reduce the capacity of the person to perform as normal. Other general ill symptoms such as a low grade fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, muscle weakness and soreness, joint pain, and cognitive impairment may also accompany the tired feeling.
There are a number of tests that can be ran to rule out other causes. Blood work, an MRI, and studies of white blood cell counts help confirm or deny a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Tests on white blood cell counts might be elevated in reaction to having a virus in the blood stream and an MRI could show brain swelling or nerve destruction. Illnesses like cancer, depression, infections, nerve disorders, and organ disease must all be considered and ruled out. Therefore, a doctor might have to run several tests and diagnosis can take some time.
There is no set treatment for the disorder, since the cause is not known. Symptoms are treatable and more than anything can be frustrating to experience. A patient might be given a battery of medications to take, including anti-inflammatories, pain medication, antiviral medications, and some form of psychological medication such as an antianxiety medicine or antidepressant. Many times a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome is not depressed or anxious but might become so as a result of their medical condition. Of course, rest is important. Exercise and activity is allowed, but only at mild levels.
Dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome can be a challenge for an adult, but managing a child can be more challenging. It can be difficult to keep them motivated but at the same time it is important that they not become too worn out. The child might not understand or why they are so tired and their activities are limited, or might not want to comply with parent instructions on rest and activity level. Constant doctors' visits and medications to help deal with issues might also be hard for the child and parents to manage. School demands often have to be adjusted, especially when a child becomes sick. But, chronic fatigue syndrome can be managed and is a livable condition. It just takes getting to know one's body and how much they can take.