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Be aware of chronic fatigue syndrome

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

More than 800,000 Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).

CFS is a complex and debilitating medical disorder, characterized by profound exhaustion, intense pain and severe problems with memory and concentration. It usually lasts for years, and recovery is slow and unpredictable.

Because the symptoms of CFS are common to other conditions, it is often overlooked by health care providers. In fact, government studies show that only 15 percent of those who have CFS have been diagnosed by their doctor. It’s even more difficult to get appropriate symptomatic treatment.

May 12 is CFS Awareness Day. It’s an ideal time to educate our community about the disease and its devastating impact.

Here are some facts: Women ages 30-50 are at greatest risk for developing CFS, and Latinos and African-Americans are at greater risk for CFS than Caucasians or Asians. Kids can get CFS, too, although it’s more common in teens than in younger children.

The condition may begin suddenly, as with the flu, or it may build gradually over time. Physical or mental exertion makes symptoms worse. There is no diagnostic test, widely effective treatment or cure for CFS.

There is hope. The Centers for Disease Control is conducting promising research that may lead to a diagnostic test for CFS. Other researchers are following important leads that may improve treatment and deepen understanding of the way CFS affects various body systems. Many, many challenges remain, and more federal funding is needed to answer basic questions.

You can help. On May 12 support increased awareness of CFS in your community! Visit the CFIDS Association of America’s Web site at http://www.cfids.org for more information. If you believe that you or someone close to you may have the condition, share this information with them and join efforts to conquer CFS.

May Duncan

Carbondale


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