Chronic fatigue syndrome has plagued doctors and researchers for years. In 2009, scientists thought that they had found a virus that people with chronic fatigue syndrome had in their blood, giving some hope on how to treat the condition. However, a new study in the journal Science and a partial retraction from some of those 2009 researchers is saying that there doesn't seem to be a virus connected to chronic fatigue syndrome.
While we'll wait for the scientists to do some more research to settle the whole chronic-fatigue-syndrome-virus question, here are five things you should know about this condition that affects more than 1 million Americans.
5 Facts About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
1. It's not the fatigue you feel after a tough workout or a long day. Fatigue is a symptom of many different illnesses and conditions, but chronic fatigue syndrome is marked by severe fatigue that lasts for at least six months or longer and is not relieved by rest (and not due to medical or psychiatric conditions), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
2. There are no specific diagnostic tests available. This is part of the reason why chronic fatigue syndrome is so tricky to diagnosis — there's no blood test or brain scan you can do to confirm the diagnosis.
3. The symptoms are varied. While obviously fatigue is a symptom, many with chronic fatigue syndrome also suffer from irritable bowel, depression or psychological problems, chills and night sweats, visual disturbances, allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise, brain fog, difficulty maintaining upright position, dizziness, balance problems or fainting, according to the CDC.
4. It can go on for years. In some cases, chronic fatigue syndrome can persist for years, making it an on-going life condition.
5. There is no cure. As of now, there is no cure, and no prescription drugs have been developed specifically for chronic fatigue syndrome. To get relief, patients work with their doctors and a variety of specialists like physical therapists, mental health professionals and rehabilitation specialists to create an individualized treatment program that includes a combination of therapies that address coping techniques, symptoms and activity management, according to the CDC.