Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS; ME; tired; tiredness; exhaustion; fatigue; headaches; weakness; chronic; syndrome;;
What is Chronic fatigue syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a bit of a mouthful isn't it? So it's often known by its initials – CFS.
For many years, doctors thought that it was a psychological (say si–ko–lo–jik–al) ailment – that means they thought it was caused by the mind believing the body was sick.
Nowadays, most doctors know that it is an illness of the body.
- Fatigue (say fat–eeg) is another name for feeling very, tired – so tired that you don't feel like doing anything at all, even really interesting and fun things.
- You may feel that you are not able to concentrate or remember things.
- You may have swollen glands in your neck or under your armpits.
- Your muscles may feel tired and aching.
- You may often have headaches.
- You may have a sore throat most of the time.
- You may feel absolutely worn out after doing any exercise or even simple things like having a shower or getting dressed.
- People who have CFS don't feel any better even if they stay in bed and sleep a lot of the time.
- Feeling so tired all the time makes people feel really sad and depressed. They may feel that they are alone, that they don't want to talk to others, and maybe they even feel that life is just too awful.
do you get it?
Anyone can get CFS, but it is not usual for kids under 12 to get it.
Doctors don't know why some people get CFS, but they think it may have something to do with the body's immune system not working properly, plus stress, and maybe a virus infection or maybe something they inherited in their genes.
Finding out whether someone has CFS can take a long time. There is no test that can prove someone has CFS, so doctors need to check that the person has not got a lot of other health problems that can cause tiredness.
If you or your friend has CFS, there are some things that may help.
- Keep as active as possible. Staying in bed and sleeping a lot usually does not help. But some people are not able to do much and do need to stay in bed or lie on a sofa a lot of the time.
- Try to keep going to school and hanging out with friends.
- Mum or dad may talk with your teacher so that she will understand that some days you may need to stay home or rest at lunchtime, or if you are feeling really tired, take work home that you can do there.
- Gentle exercise every day, like stretching, walking, t'ai chi or yoga will help to build up strength, energy and make you feel happier.
- Learn to relax properly.
- Learning to meditate may be helpful.
- Eat healthy foods and don't snack on 'treats' while you are resting. Special diets, for example cutting out meat, do not seem to be helpful.
- Work out when you feel most energetic and do the active stuff at those times.
- Plan the day so that you have different things to look forward to.
- Spend time with friends. If your friend has CFS, then be prepared to do less active things with her sometimes.
- Accept that some days will be better than others, so don't be too hard on yourself or your friend.
- Getting to know other kids who have CFS can help. You will know that you are not alone and will be able to talk to others who can really understand how it feels on the bad days and the good days.
"I have had CFS for 2 years now, but at last I am getting better. Some people thought I was trying to get out of school or games. I love school and I love games and it has been awful not being able to do what the other kids do. People need to know more about CFS – then they would not be so unkind."
letter from Jami
I've had CFS for four years now. Have a look at this.
The worst about CFS
- sore throats
- lack of energy
What I had to stop for CFS
- playing soccer
- cross country running
- swimming long laps
- races and running
- sleepovers at friends' houses.
- I talk with friends.
- I have one day a week off school, usually Wednesday, so that I can rest.
- I join in sports but try not to wear myself out.
- I take it easy in P.E.
- I do a little exercise each day.
- I try to keep up with my work.
- I try to keep happy
Things that help me feel better
- writing stories
Doctors and scientists around the world are finding more about CFS all the time. There may be days when you feel really 'down' but there will be more and more days when you are feeling well again. Keeping up with friends and school will help.
Did you know, CFS has another name 'Myalgic Encephalopathy', which you don't have to try to say, most people just say 'ME'."
If you want to read more have a look at the Teen Health topic Chronic fatigue syndrome - the facts.
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.