The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States says more than a million Americans suffer from Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
The CDC along with the National Institute for Health (NIH) has announced a four million dollar research program to study the causes and possible treatments for CFS and says the disease is a very real one and early diagnosis and treatment are essential for recovery.
Dr. Julie Gerberding the Director of the CDC says CFS is a terrible illness that prevents many people from taking part in everyday activities and participating in the things they enjoy.
The CDC has also launched a national education campaign to raise public awareness of CFS and published a dedicated Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/.
According to the CDC, 80 percent of people with chronic fatigue do not know they have it, and its causes are unknown.
The illness can cause profound exhaustion, sleep difficulties, and problems concentrating and remembering.
The symptoms are flu-like including pain in the joints and muscles, tender lymph nodes, and sore throat and headaches are also common.
A distinctive characteristic of the illness is a worsening of symptoms following physical or mental exertion, says the CDC and diagnosis is primarily made considering a patient's medical history, completing a physical exam and doing tests which rule out other conditions.
The CDC considers chronic fatigue syndrome to be a significant public health concern, and say they are committed to research that will lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment of the illness.
The CDC says several other illnesses have symptoms that mimic chronic fatigue, including fibromyalgia syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, neurasthenia, multiple chemical sensitivities, and chronic mononucleosis.
The CDC says there are tens of millions of people with similar fatiguing illnesses who do not fully meet the strict research definition of CFS and the public health epidemic that can no longer be ignored by the medical community.
Although no one therapy works, reducing stress, dietary restrictions, gentle stretching and nutritional supplementation have all been shown to help and drugs are sometimes prescribed to help with sleep and pain.
The CDC advises sufferers to avoid herbal remedies such as comfrey, ephedra, kava, germander, chaparral, bitter orange, licorice root, yohimbe and any other supplements that are potentially dangerous.