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Chronic fatigue syndrome is more widespread than thought: CDC finds 3.3M diagnosed - or more

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on Friday that found that about 3.3 million adults in the US suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Brooke Steinberg, NY Post, Dec 11, 2023

If you have felt a never-ending sense of severe exhaustion that can't be fixed by sleeping, you're not alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on Friday that found that about 3.3 million adults in the US suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME/CFS, is a condition where overwhelming fatigue is not improved by rest, according to the CDC. Other symptoms can include pain, dizziness and problems with sleep, thinking and concentrating.

The survey asked 57,000 American adults between 2021 and 2022 whether or not they'd been diagnosed with CFS or ME by a healthcare professional and if they continue to struggle with the disease.

The findings revealed that an estimated 1.3% of adults are living with CFS, indicating that the condition "is not a rare illness," the CDC's Elizabeth Unger, one of the report's co-authors, told the Associated Press.

However, some people affected by CFS often go undiagnosed since there is no blood test or scan for diagnosis, meaning that the prevalence could even be higher than estimated.

CFS can affect anyone of any age but is most common in people between 40-60 years old and in women, though there was less of a gap between women and men than previous studies have suggested, and there was little difference between white and Black people.

The study also found that a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged people said they had CFS when compared to more affluent people, debunking the misperception that it only affects the wealthy and privileged, per AP's report.

Those misperceptions may stem from the fact that those who are diagnosed and treated "traditionally tend to have a little more access to health care, and maybe are a little more believed when they say they're fatigued and continue to be fatigued and can't go to work," Dr. Brayden Yellman, a specialist at the Bateman Horne Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, told AP.

Researchers have yet to determine what causes CFS. However, previous research has suggested that it could potentially be a prolonged overreaction of the body to an infection or weakened immune system, according to the National Institutes of Health.

While some symptoms can be managed with lifestyle adjustments, there is currently no cure for the condition.

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