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Last change: April 1, 2001.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Here I found the theme of the X-files appropriate because this disease is still such a mystery. There's no sense in rewriting the CFS FAQ. So I'll give a very short introduction, immediately followed by some remarks and links about things that aren't in the faq.

CFS is characterized by profound tiredness or fatigue. This fatigue very much reduces the level of physical activity as well as disables much of the cognitive functions. So called nonspecific symptoms include sore throat, muscle aches and pains, excessive sleep, malaise, fever, tender lymp nodes, muscle weakness, balance problems and nausea.

CFS can only be diagnosed by autopsy or by ruling out other disorders. There exists no treatment.

The disease makes many people lose their jobs. Social benefits are hard to get because the disease is often underestimated. Even close friends and family might give up on patients. Either because they don't understand, or because they lack the resources for taking care. In bad cases patients can't even feed themselves.

The disease is said not to be fatal. That might be true for most patients, but it's hard to believe that there are no exceptions to the rule. I think I nearly died of total exhaustion myself. And there are reports of patients dying of the complications.

Social Security MD with apparently stuffed ears


I'm just a patient with no medical background whatsoever. If you catch me telling utter nonsense, let me know.

Basically, as I see it there are a only few types of theories:

  • The auto-immune system has gone wild and is fighting a disease that may have been there once but isn't there anymore. In the meantime the rest of the body is exhausted of energy.
  • CFS is caused by a virus similar to the AIDS virus, meaning that there is a legitimate reason for the auto-immune system having problems.
  • There's a problem with the mechanism that provides the body's cell with energy.
None of these theories are well supported by facts. There are many more theories launched continuesly, but usually those are never to be heard of again.

Known diseases with the same symptoms

Virus Diseases

Some of the Virus Diseases summed up by CliniWeb have much in common with CFS. Also take a look at the Virus Diseases page published as part of the US National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings.

Endocrine Diseases

The homepage of the National Adrenal Diseases Foundation (NADF), a page on Cushing’s Syndrome.

Neurological disorders

Parkinson would be an example. Unfortunately, medical links rot faster than any other type, so no links.


Ever heard of leukodystrophy before? If not you'd better read up on this family of diseases. Check leukodystrophy.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Information Resource

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune Diseases by CliniWeb.

Unknown classification

Well, it's probably my ignorance that I don't know what type of disease this is. Anyway, visit the Hypoglycemia Homepage Holland.

Miscellaneous general links

Paul R. Cheney

One of the first doctors you should know is Paul R. Cheney, MD PhD. He has a site called the the Cheney Clinic Information Services. This site features an interactive test for obtaining an indication of CFS, its own faq and information on treatments. That is treatments, not cures.


I already mentioned the CFS FAQ. Here's an even more comprehensive one: CFS index to FAQ's.

Chinese view

The Acupuncture site provides a Chinese view of Chronic Fatigue.

Contacting other patients


To contact other patients you can use the newsgroups alt.med.cfs and alt.med.fibromyalgia. To help you on the way: PWC stands for Person With CFS, DD means Dammed Disease or for the politically correct Dumb Disease , MCS is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and EI is Environmental Illnes.

Harry Bosma is looking forward to comments or suggestions at hbosma@xs4all.nl. He does not give dream interpretations.

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