What?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), post-viral fatigue syndrome, or chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), is characterized by severe, prolonged fatigue that lasts for more than six months.

Patients experience extreme exhaustion; they tire easily in the course of normal activities and may even be unable to perform normal, every-day tasks. The fatigue is often accompanied by memory loss, attention disorder, muscle pain, headaches, and unrefreshing sleep.

CFS shares overlapping symptomology with several diseases. Before making a diagnosis of CFS, other specific illnesses in which fatigue is the core symptom (such as hypothyroidism, anemia, Lyme disease, lupus, diabetes, cancer…) must be excluded.

Intestinal dysfunctions such as dysbiosis and leaky gut likely contributes to CFS. Intestinal permeability, and the subsequent leakage of LPS into the blood, may also contribute to the chronic immune activation observed in CFS patients.

Permeability to environmental chemicals can lead to Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, a disorder frequently associated with CFS.

Several viruses have been associated with CFS but they are not specific for CFS; none of these viruses (i.e. Herpes virus 6 & 7, Parvovirus, Enterovirus, EBV, etc) are found in all CFS patients. Absence of detection could in some cases be explained by viral localization.

There is a long history of medical interest in CFS. In the last decade, an increasing number of studies have been conducted in order to unravel the pathogenesis of CFS. Despite of these studies, the etiology is not known and no unique pathological abnormalities have been identified.

More and more data supports that a combination of factors that are important in the development of chronic immune dysfunction, which is the cardinal finding in all CFS patients.

Who?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects between 0.1 and 0.4 percent of the population. Although more women are affected, anyone can get CFS. The most common age of onset is between 20 and 40 years old but CFS can also occur in children and adolescents.

People exposed to poor working conditions or stressful work, seem to face higher risk for developig CFS; however, stress alone does not cause CFS.

Chronic Lyme disease can mimic every disease process including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Fibromyalgia. In fact, chronic Lyme is often called the “Great Imitator“.

If an individual has any chronic health condition, ranging from arthritis to chronic fatigue syndrome to fibromyalgia, it is important to rule out or diagnose Lyme disease. It is apparent that many cases of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are actually Lyme disease in disguise.

Evidence for intestinal dysbiosis is often seen in CFS patients. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often diagnosed in people who have also been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and two related conditions, fibromyalgia (FMS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI). Between 30-70% of CFS patients may have concurrent IBS; however, not all patients with IBS develop CFS. Other factors (infections, genetic background…) may determine the evolution of each disease.

Immune dysregulation is a hallmark of CFS. The underlying cause of inflammation, however, remains unclear.

Among the factors that may contribute to the onset or maintenance of a chronic inflammatory condition leading to CFS, the scientists at R.E.D. Laboratories are particularly interested in the consequences of intestinal dysfunctions, as well as in the role of chronic infections and/or persistent viral infections (see dedicated pages).

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