The aim of this blog is to provide useful information and support that is relevant to people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Please be aware that we are unable to post and respond to individual questions or comments.

CFS is a complex illness and the cause is not clear. The illness involves a wide range of symptoms that can include overwhelming fatigue (which can be persistent or recurrent) and post-exertional malaise; headaches; sleep disturbance; problems with concentration and memory; muscle and joint pain; frequent swollen glands and sore throats; irritable bowel symptoms; dizziness; nausea; and palpitation.

Diagnosis: At present there is no single diagnostic test for CFS. A diagnosis is made by a process of elimination of other common medical conditions known to cause fatigue and checking that symptoms meet the CFS diagnostic criteria.

The pattern and severity of symptoms can vary during the course of the illness and be different in presentation between individuals. This can be confusing for people and in some cases make diagnosis difficult and lengthier. There is growing evidence that the illness does not have a single cause and it can be triggered by a variety of factors (NICE CG53). CFS may develop following a viral infection, other physical illnesses or stressful events.

Prevalance: CFS affects 0.2 – 0.4% of the population. It affects every age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic group. It is four times more common in women than men. It is most common in people in their forties and fifties. It is uncommon in children.

Boom and Bust: A common and well-recognised feature of CFS is the boom and bust nature of the illness. Here the individual experiences good and bad hours, days or weeks where energy levels and other symptoms can be very up and down. This pattern often leads into an unhelpful activity cycle of doing too much (significantly increasing activity) on better days which lead to an increase in fatigue and other symptoms. This in turn leads to a significant reduction in activity and need to rest in order to recover (for some this can take several days) and so the cycle of boom and bust continues.