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Chronic Fatigue Is Very Disabling, Doctors Say


WebMD Health News

Nov. 20, 2001 -- If you have chronic fatigue, do you feel as if it has led you down a long road of frustration? You're not alone. Diagnosing and treating this mysterious -- and disabling -- medical problem is a source of aggravation for doctors too.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome. There is no known cause. People with CFS have fatigue that leaves them exhausted with very low stamina. They also have problems with concentration and short-term memory. Flu-like symptoms, such as pain in the joints and muscles, unrefreshing sleep, tender lymph nodes, sore throat, and headache can also be present.

In a new survey of medical professionals conducted by The Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America, 75% of them said that CFS is at least as disabling, if not more so, as other long-term medical problems, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The medical professionals in the survey included a variety of specialties, such as internal medicine doctors, family/general practice, psychiatry/psychology, neurology, nursing and medical research.

Another finding in the survey shows that the doctors' inability to deal with the problems of CFS leaves many of them discouraged.

Diagnosing CFS is a point of concern for many doctors. Half of those polled said that the lack of a test to detect CFS is the greatest problem.

And no one seems to agree on a potential cause. Although 37% of the medical professionals felt that a problem with the immune system was the likely culprit, a third think the cause is still unknown.

Education also seems to be an issue.

Over half of those polled think that the general public is not very well informed about CFS and a third actually think the public is very misinformed.

But the doctors apparently could use some fine tuning of their knowledge as well. Close to 80% of the medical professionals who answered the survey think that doctors need more education about CFS.

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