Worldwide fatigue is the most common symptom that is presented to a health practitioner. There are different levels of fatigue which are given different labels. The precise cause of fatigue in any one individual is rarely able to be determined therefore the terms used are often interchangeable.
Fatigue is a symptom, not a condition
Symptoms can be grouped into four categories.
- Acute fatigue
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic fatigue syndrome ( new term being considered this and ME/CFS is systemic exertion intolerance disease SEID)
- ME/CFS or M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)
Chronic fatigue syndrome is often over diagnosed as many conditions have fatigue as part of the disease diagnosis. For example, active rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a chronic fatigue state and once the illness is effectively treated fatigue resolves. This is an example of chronic fatigue and not chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. The latter is a “disease state” and as yet there are no certain causes or predicable and easily identified biomarkers.
Fatigue can be associated with many conditions and there can be multiple contributing factors.
Age and gender
Thyroid or other metabolic /endocrine disorders
Cardiac and or respiratory conditions
Sleep disorder( organic)
Post traumatic stress disorder
Sleep disorder (non-organic)
Family and relationship problems
Drug and alcohol abuse
In coming to a diagnosis it is important that a thorough evaluation is undertaken to identify and exclude treatable conditions that cause fatigue.
Up until recently a psychologically based model was widely held to be the basis for the aetiology of fatigue associated syndromes. However research is uncovering molecular, neurological, endocrine and immunological deficits in many patients leading to the potential for biologically based therapeutic interventions.