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         Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Introduction

People seek medical care when the fatigue and cognitive difficulties of chronic fatigue syndrome affect their quality of life. People who have questions about a particular treatment should contact a qualified health care provider, local medical society, or university medical school for additional information.

Self-Care at Home

Physical activity performed at a comfortable pace is important for everyone to maintain good health, including people with chronic fatigue syndrome. People with CFS need to learn how much activity is helpful and when to stop, so they do not increase their level of fatigue.

In general, people with CFS should pace themselves carefully and avoid excessive physical or emotional stress . Remember, the goal is to avoid increasing fatigue or pain. Maintain a regular and manageable daily routine to avoid a relapse or increase of symptoms. Exercise should be supervised by a knowledgeable health care provider or physical therapist.

Total rest should also be avoided as it may make your fatigue worse. You should maintain physical activity at a comfortable pace. If you increase your level of physical activity, do so gradually.

Decreased consumption of alcohol and caffeine at night may help you sleep.

Try to minimize social isolation.

Other Therapy

Other therapies tried by people with chronic fatigue syndrome include massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, cranial-sacral techniques, self-hypnosis, and therapeutic touch. People with CFS may feel better with such techniques, but these therapies should be combined with an individualized exercise program that includes stretching.

Many people report successful treatment of CFS symptoms with experimental therapies, herbal supplements, and dietary modifications. Various dietary and herbal products have been promoted in the market to improve symptoms of CFS. Many of these have not been tested in controlled trials. Preparations that have been claimed to have benefit to CFS patients include astragalus, borage seed oil, bromelain, comfrey, echinacea, garlic, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, primrose oil, guercetin, St. John's wort, and Shiitake mushroom extract. Dietary supplements and herbal preparations can have potentially serious side effects, and some can interfere or interact with prescription medications Do not begin any experimental treatments without consulting your doctor or health care provider.

Follow-up

Regular follow-up is necessary for your doctor to monitor your treatment program. Because the treatment program should be based on your overall medical condition and current symptoms, it should be modified over time. Visit your health care provider regularly.

Prevention

Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms are worsened by stress, too much exercise, or lack of sleep. Avoid these triggers.

Outlook

The percentage of people who completely recover from chronic fatigue syndrome is not known. Most people with CFS have improvement in their symptoms over time with proper treatment strategies and regular care. People with CFS may have cyclical symptoms in which they have periods of illness followed by periods or relative wellness. Most patients recover within 5 years of the beginning of the illness.

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