Young Adults and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What is it like to live with an illness that has no known cause and for which there is no specific treatment? What does it mean to have an “immune system disorder” that may last for many, many years, realizing it will affect one’s daily life in countless ways?

Persons diagnosed with CFIDS, or chronic fatigue syndrome, are living with such an illness.

They often are barraged with advice – from doctors, parents, siblings, significant others, intimate friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. They are told there is nothing wrong with them. They are told to rest. They are told to start managing the stress in their lives. They are told to change their diet. They are given dietary supplements from herbs to enzymes. Mostly they are told to just get over it.

They rest. They do a bit better. They try to live a “normal” life. They get worn out. They get sick. And people want to know what’s wrong. “You look okay,” they say.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious and complex illness. It is characterized by a disabling fatigue, flu-like symptoms, difficulty in information-processing and short-term memory, and problems with sleeping. More information is available at http://www.cfids.org

Treatment is tailored to the individual and only offers symptom relief. It usually includes lifestyle changes, more rest, less stress, change in diet, and minimal exercise. Due to a high sensitivity to medication, persons with CFIDS are usually not treated medically, and then only on a trial-and-error, low dosage basis.

There is current data that supports the notion that CFIDS is one of the most prevalent chronic illnesses of our time. For example, it is at least twice as common as multiple sclerosis. CFIDS most often affects white women between the ages of 20 and 45.

Listen to the experience of one young woman, diagnosed with CFIDS at the age of 23, having lived with it for the last four-and-a-half years.

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