By Cort Johnson in Health Rising.
Making Fatigue Real
Fatigue is like the Rodney Dangerfield of symptoms – it just gets no respect. The problem is the poor descriptive power of the word. It readily describes the everyday, manageable fatigue that most of the population regularly feels. That fatigue, though, has little relation to the pathological, functionally debilitating “fatigue” that people with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), multiple sclerosis and some other diseases experience.
Studies indicate that the “fatigue” in these can be remarkably debilitating. Tony Komaroff’s large 1996 study indicated that people with ME/CFS were significantly more functionally impaired than people with congestive heart failure, type II diabetes mellitus, acute myocardial infarction, multiple sclerosis and hypertension. (Note that very severely ill ME/CFS patients were surely not included in this study.)
Self-tests and questionnaires to assess fatigue abound but are hardly trusted. What we really need is a test that objectively measures how much fatigue is present. Finding that has seemed kind of like the holy grail – a much desired goal but always seemingly out of reach. How do you measure such a seemingly subjective issue as fatigue?
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