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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a chronic, complex, and highly variable condition characterized by new onset fatigue severe enough to produce a substantial decrease in activity in addition to several other symptoms including post-exertional malaise, sleep disturbance, cognitive slowing (brain fog) and difficulty standing for an extended period of time. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may also be referred to as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID).

It is estimated that up to 2.5 million Americans currently have CFS, many of whom have not yet been formally diagnosed [1]. CFS can be physically, mentally, and emotionally debilitating, and persons with this diagnosis are twice as likely to be unemployed as persons with fatigue who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for CFS [2].

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Post-exertional malaise
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Difficulty standing
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Linked to Mitochondrial Dysfunction?

Mitochondrial dysfunction is an etiologic mechanism that may explain the multisystem range of symptoms experienced by CFS patients [3]. Electron micrographs of muscle biopsies have also shown abnormal mitochondrial degeneration in patients with CFS [4]. Furthermore, evidence of oxidative damage and increased activity of antioxidant enzymes have been detected in CFS patient muscle specimens [5].

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