Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the most common name The disorder may also be referred to as post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS, when the condition arises following a flu-like illness), myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), or several other terms. The etiology (cause or origin) of CFS is currently unknown and there is no diagnostic laboratory test or biomarker. Symptoms of CFS include widespread muscle and joint pain; cognitive difficulties; chronic, often severe, mental and physical exhaustion; and other characteristic symptoms in a previously healthy and active person. CFS patients may report additional symptoms including muscle weakness, hypersensitivity, orthostatic intolerance, digestive disturbances, depression, poor immune response, and cardiac and respiratory problems. It is unclear if these symptoms represent co-morbid conditions or are produced by an underlying etiology of CFS. All diagnostic criteria require that the symptoms must not be caused by other medical conditions.
CFS is thought to have an incidence of 4 adults per 1,000 in the United States. For unknown reasons CFS occurs most often in people in their 40s and 50s, more often in women than men, and is less prevalent among children and adolescents.
Whereas there is agreement on the genuine threat to health, happiness and productivity posed by CFS, various physicians' groups, researchers and patient advocates promote different nomenclature, diagnostic criteria, etiologic hypotheses and treatments, resulting in controversy about many aspects of the disorder. The name CFS itself is controversial as many patients and advocacy groups, as well as some experts, believe the name chronic fatigue syndrome stigmatizes, by not conveying the seriousness of the illness, and want the name changed.
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