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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Diagnosis Challenges

By: Hailey Harris

Copyright (c) 2008 Hailey Harris

Today, it is estimated that more than one million people in America live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However, centers that work with disease and statistics also estimate that for people with this condition, 80% are not even diagnosed.

In other words, in addition to the one million, more people are struggling through daily life, feeling fatigued, experience sleep disturbances, feeling muscle and joint pain, and having no idea there is something wrong.

Complex Syndrome

Because Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complex illness, one that is often misunderstood, it is difficult to diagnosis. While healthcare professionals are dedicated to making a correct diagnosis and forming the right treatment, many overlook Chronic Fatigue.

Keep in mind, that while some illnesses can be compared with diagnostic laboratory tests or some type of biomarker, Chronic Fatigue cannot be. Additionally, many of the symptoms people deal with are also symptoms associated with other illnesses such as MS, Lupus, and even some cancers.

Known as the "invisible illness", Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not only frustrating for the individual but doctors as well.

Typically, a person walking around with this condition looks normal. In fact, with Chronic Fatigue, it is common to have days where no symptoms exist whereas other days, the illness is debilitating. All of these factors combined make Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a challenging illness, for diagnosis and treatment.

Good News in Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The good news is that in 1994, a study was conducted in which a reliable algorithm for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was developed in adults. While children can also end up with Chronic Fatigue, although rare, a firmed diagnosis in this case is near impossible simply because children are not able to vocalize symptoms as an adult could. In cases of children, diagnosis is slightly different.

One of the main criteria for diagnosing Chronic Fatigue is the individual having symptoms of fatigue for six consecutive months or longer. As you can imagine, the person needing to wait six months only adds to the frustration but this time helps distinguish Chronic Fatigue from another illness.

From there, the doctor will review specific symptoms in addition to fatigue to include flu-like symptoms such as body aches and pains and memory problems. Taking the symptoms and getting a solid medical history certainly helps in the diagnosis.

Depending on what the doctor finds, he or she may request blood work be done, looking for hormonal imbalances, decreased levels of serotonin, and so on. Additionally, a urine sample will likely be taken, which again would help the doctor rule out other causes for your symptoms, or lead to a conclusion of Chronic Fatigue. Once other illnesses have been eliminated as a possible cause, chances are the doctor would then turn his/her attention to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Because this condition can mask other symptoms or cause confusion, a confirmed diagnosis is very challenging. Doctors want desperately to find an answer so they can provide accurate treatment. However, getting to the diagnosis is tough in many cases.

Your best bet is to do your research to find a doctor who works with other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients, someone who will be aggressive in his/her approach so an accurate diagnosis can be made. Or look for solutions with alternative approaches to recovery.

Hailey Harris is an expert in dealing with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia symptoms after suffering for more than 8 years with health problems. She is now symptom free and living a pain free life. She developed Ridfatigue.com found at http://www.ridfatigue.com to help others learn to do the same. To receive tons of info, tips, and healing strategies for free visit http://www.ridfatigue.com/how.html .

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