Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition that can often get confused with any other conditions and diseased. To top it all, there are several misunderstandings associated with it, which can sometimes lead to a lot of anxiety and confusion. Some of them can even lead to worsening of the condition, making it important the such misunderstandings are taken care of.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition of severe and debilitating fatigue that interferes with the daily activities and vocation of the person suffering from it. Its cause is still uncertain, and its symptoms, apart from fatigue variable to a large extent. No doubt then that it is often a source of misunderstandings. Some of these misunderstandings frequently encountered are summarised here.
Misunderstandings Associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
(i) "Chronic fatigue syndrome means laziness".
Actually, chronic fatigue syndrome is NOT laziness. It is a recognized medical condition wherein the person affected by it is unable to carry on the activities that would be very normal in a normal and healthy person, because of extreme fatigue.
(ii) "Resting and not working at all will worsen chronic fatigue syndrome, so it is better to start working"
Whereas in many cases of fatigue, starting work actually tones up the muscles and this warming up improves the condition, in contrast, in chronic fatigue syndrome, even moderate exertion can worsen the situation. Typically the person is unable to tolerate any exertion.
(iii) "Resting for a few hours or a good night sleep will improve the condition".
Whereas usual fatigue improves with rest, fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome does not improve with them. In fact, it is one of the characteristics of chronic fatigue syndrome.
(iv) "Chronic fatigue syndrome is a weakness of muscles".
Though it gives rise to pain and myalgia, it is not a case of weakness of muscle. Even though the person affected by it is easily tired, the power of the muscles is not significantly affected.
(v) "Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease of the muscles".
Chronic fatigue syndrome is not primarily a muscle disease. There is no specific pathology of the muscle that is seen in such cases. In this way it is very different from myalgias, muscle degeneration or neurological weaknesses.
(vi) "Chronic fatigue syndrome is some form of depression".
While it is true that symptoms of depression can also be observed in persons suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, the two are not the same, nor is chronic fatigue syndrome a part of depression.
(vii) "Chronic fatigue syndrome never improves".
Even though this condition still does not have a reliable cure, either as medication or in any other form, yet a large number of cases do show significant improvement, with or without medicines.
(viii) "Chronic fatigue syndrome is part of the viral fever".
Many times, chronic fatigue syndrome occurs immediately after a viral infection. However, it persists even long after all the possible symptoms of viral illness have subsided.
(ix) "Chronic fatigue syndrome involves severe damage to the body parts."
So far there is no evidence of any really grievous injury to joints or muscles in chronic fatigue syndrome. Though pains and aches are common, they do not indicate any permanent or even temporary injury.
Need for Greater Awareness
Because of the variety of complaints and features, and due to our total ignorance as yet about the exact causes, chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with a number of misunderstandings. These can be removed to some extent by creating more awareness about chronic fatigue syndrome.