CINCINNATI—A disorder that leaves more than a million American’s feeling tired all the time doesn’t necessarily improve with rest alone.
Chronic fatigue syndrome—defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as extreme fatigue lasting at least six months—can affect anyone no matter what age or gender, but is four times more common in women.
Lesley Arnold, MD, director of UC’s Women’s Health Research Program, treats chronic fatigue and conducts clinical trials using medications that may improve symptoms for those suffering from this often debilitating condition.
Arnold says exhaustion isn’t the only symptom of chronic fatigue. Sufferers can also experience joint pain, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and headaches.
And, Arnold says, there is no real test to determine if someone has chronic fatigue. But because so many other conditions cause fatigue, she adds, it’s important to first rule out other medical problems.
“We don’t know what causes chronic fatigue,” says Arnold. “It could be initiated by an infection or physical or emotional trauma. It may even be genetic.
“What we do know is that the majority of people with chronic fatigue go undiagnosed.”
For anyone who thinks they may have chronic fatigue, Arnold suggests talking with your physician. Although there isn’t a cure, she says, there are many things that can be done to relieve symptoms.
“Medications, combined with non-drug therapies, such as stress reduction and improved diet, can help relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue,” Arnold says. “People tend to do better if they are diagnosed and treated early.”
For more information about the chronic fatigue research program and to learn about current clinical trials, call (513) 475-8113. To learn more about the Women’s Health Research Program Treatment Center, call (513) 475-9477.