CFS is a mystery illness that can begin after medical trauma or a high stress period in ones life. Most of the time a patient will feel too tired to do normal activities. Once called “yuppie flu” in the 1980’s, the symptoms of this disease dates back to the late 1800’s. This is two to four times more prevalent in women than in other demographics.
Symptoms of CFS are similar to other illnesses and therefore are harder to diagnosis. They include: tender lymph nodes, fatigue and weakness, muscle and joint aches, and the inability to concentrate. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that over half a million people have CFS yet the cause is still unknown. It too is a diagnosis of exclusion.
Self management of CFS includes rest, adequate diet, and pacing oneself so that fatigue is diminished. Doctors tend to favor antidepressants to help alleviate symptoms. CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, postviral fatigue syndrome, and chronic fatigue and immunedisfunction syndrome.
A survey in March 1998 by Tom Ferguson M.D. at Boston’s Center for Clinical Computing and William Kelly at the Sapient Health Network showed that online health communities are significantly more helpful than even specialists in 9 of 12 healthcare aspects. The nine areas that were found to be superior were the convenience, cost effectiveness, emotional support, compassion, source of medical references, source of information, source of coping tips, death issues, and most likely to be there for the long haul. They also rated a bit higher in the area of technical medical information. Online health communities therefore seem to be a very good bet for anyone with a chronic illness. It is also a means of finding a place to go where you are both understood and appreciated. Many find that it gives them a new purpose in life; a sense of accomplishment when they help comfort someone new to their illness.
Informational Resources for CFS suffers are as follows:
National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30333