Most caregivers know first-hand what it means to have chronic fatigue, but did you know there is an actual disease process called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” or CFS, that is a very serious and disabling illness? In fact nearly 1 million people in the United States are thought to be affected with CFS-including women and men of all ages. Statistically 4 times as many women are affected than men.
The way that CFS is differentiated from normal fatigue that we all experience from time to time is- those who are diagnosed with the disease have profound fatigue lasting six months or longer (for adults). Other symptoms include: increased fatigue with physical or mental activity that is not relived by sleep or rest, with a substantial loss in the ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Other symptoms include: muscle or joint pain, headaches, short term memory loss, insomnia or sleeping too much, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty concentrating and more. Symptoms can change on a day to day or even an hour to hour basis.
The illness may begin with flu like symptoms including; fever, sweating intolerance to heat and cold and high or low body temperature, sore throat and/or abnormal appetite. The symptoms worsen with stress and with activity. Those with CFS may feel dizzy, have frequent heart palpitations, or may experience intolerance for long periods of standing. Frequent urination or irritable bowel syndrome can also be symptoms of the disease.
In an attempt to give unconditionally, caregivers are extremely susceptible to stress related illnesses such as CFS; learning about how to identify signs of the disease is important.
Treatment for CFS is primarily symptomatic-patients need to adjust activity as tolerated. Individuals with the disease must adapt their lifestyle to there capabilities. This may even include being bed-ridden for a long period of time.
CFS is just one example of why avoiding overload and self-care for caregivers is so vital. Learn more about caregiver stress and how to avoid it by joining our 25 lesson course for Alzheimer’s caregivers CLICK HERE to join.
Learn more about CFS by visiting “The New Jersey Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association (NJCFSA)” website at www.njcfsa.org.