Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has long been known to cause several disabling symptoms including exhaustion and disturbed sleep. It is even a cause of routine muscle and joint pain. For some patients, CFS also causes cognitive impairments. Doctors and scientists are still unclear as to what actually causes the condition.
The first few cases of CFS weren't diagnosed in the United States until sometime during the 1980s. Since that time, experts have remained divided about the cause of the condition. Some have suspected that a viral infection may contribute to the onset of the syndrome.
Despite the diagnoses, other researchers--and even patients themselves--have long dismissed the condition. They believe it to be stress related or even a psychosomatic illness. To further complicate matters, recent developments in the field have proven to be both heartening and saddening for CFS patients.
In one instance the FDA was urged by a panel not to accept blood donations from patients with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. The reason experts made this recommendation was to help prevent the potential for the transmission of viruses that had earlier been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Less than one week later, four more research papers were released that suggested those earlier studies and the panel's nomination were based on faulty results and that the findings were merely the result of contamination in the laboratory. This was upsetting to some patients. Although the FDA was not bound to follow the panel's recommendation, it showed that CFS was finally being taken seriously by medical professionals.
In the end, there are still differing opinions, leaving patients and their doctors in a conundrum over the best treatment options for CFS.