Chronic fatigue syndrome is one of those medical conditions which are still neither fully explained, nor easily cured or prevented. It is actually not a single disease, but a combination of medical signs and symptoms that can result from many causes. It is important that we understand how it can result and what can lead to it.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition whose causes are still not fully understood. It can result from various causes that may have little similarity with each other, yet the symptoms that are observed may be similar.
An overview of Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition of persistent debilitating fatigue that produces severe distress apart from interfering with working as well as daily activities. It is not a single disease, but a condition of fatigue and generalised debility that is diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome depending upon the satisfaction of certain criteria.
By definition, it should have persisted or recurred a few times over a period of six months, it should not be a result of a specific medical cause, and is associated with a number of symptoms like headaches, sore throat, muscle ache, joint pains, sleep disturbances, tenderness in lymph nodes and mood and sleep disturbances.
Causes of chronic fatigue syndrome
The causes for chronic fatigue syndrome are still not fully understood. While various researchers and medical experts have attempted to associate this condition with various causes from time to time, there is still no consensus regarding the exact cause or the manner in which those causes lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.
The available information suggests a few likely causes.
Chronic fatigue syndrome commonly develops for the first time as part of some infective disease or event, or it may develop immediately following it. Among the infections that are commonly seen to be associated with it are viruses like Ebstein bar virus, Cytomegalovirus, human herpes virus, retroviruses or enteroviruses. It can also be associated with fungal infections like Candida albicans, or bacterial infections from Mycoplasma species. It is also associated commonly with Infectious Mononucleosis.
(ii) IMMUNOLOGIC DISTURBANCES
Many persons diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome are known to have immunological disturbances in their earlier life or childhood. Some researchers have suggested the possibility of auto-immune diseases, where the body's own immunity leads to damage of body tissues. However, the medical evidence available is not enough.
(iii) NEURO-PSYCHOLOGICAL COMPONENTS
The frequency of many neurological and psychiatric symptoms in persons diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome, has suggested that this condition may have a psychiatric component. Depression is a very common feature, observed in almost two third of patients. Other notable symptoms are sleep disturbances and mood deviations, which raise this possibility.
Another cause thought to be involved in the genesis of chronic fatigue syndrome is a disturbance in the autonomic neurological system, which is responsible for maintaining the upright posture, the tone of the body and the ability of the body to relax. Disturbances in it can create a feeling of fatigue that may interfere with the working.
(v) HORMONAL DISTURBANCES
Another reason that has been considered as a cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is disturbances in the hormonal system of the body, which is controlled by two parts of the brain the hypothalamus and the pituitary. The pituitary is a gland in the lower part of brain that secretes some hormones which in turn control many other hormones of the body. The pituitary, in turn is controlled by the hypothalamus. This hypothalamus pituitary axis controls most of the hormones secreted in body, and a disturbance in this axis can create many problems that may manifest as a variety of symptoms including fatigue.
Study of possible reasons and causes for chronic fatigue syndrome continues. It is possible that this condition may be a result of more than one cause, which makes the identification and confirmation of its causes all the more difficult.