Fatigue syndrome – causes, symptoms, treatment.

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Currently, fatigue syndrome is often talked about, especially in connection with long covid, or the late effects of a corona infection. However, severe fatigue also occurs after other illnesses.

The translation from French makes it clear what it is all about: “Fatigue” means tiredness. But those who are affected by fatigue syndrome need more than just a little rest.

Symptoms of fatigue syndrome
“Fatigue is defined as pathological exhaustion and exhaustibility that defies the usual recovery strategies,” explains Sabine Herzig, a specialist in neurology at the Day Clinic for Cognitive Neurology at Leipzig University Hospital. Aspects such as a healthy lifestyle, restful sleep and adequate breaks do not lead here to the fact that the lack of energy is basically eliminated, so the expert.

This means that those affected suffer from a permanent feeling of exhaustion, and at the same time even everyday tasks lead to rapid fatigue. “Patients find it difficult to fulfill requirements over a longer period of time – this can also be conversations, household activities or light sporting activities,” says Herzig. During such activities, strength decreases disproportionately quickly.

What are the causes of fatigue syndrome?

The causes usually lie in previous illnesses: “We observe it in patients after serious illnesses,” says Sabine Köhler, chairwoman of the Professional Association of German Neurologists. “The strong feeling of exhaustion does not regress, but remains as a complaint.” The specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy often experiences fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis or after cancer with accompanying therapy.

Treatment options
If fatigue is present, it cannot simply be remedied with medical treatment: “First of all, you have to acknowledge that this illness is there and adjust your own expectations to it,” says Köhler.

Instead of wanting to function as before, she recommends taking stock: “Where is it important for me to perform and where is it not so essential?” In this way, strength-sapping work or goals could be put on the back burner for a bit.

For sufferers, it is advisable to set up their lives around fatigue syndrome, says Köhler. “It is important to aim for moderate exertion in order to slowly increase performance again without overstraining the body,” says the expert. Whether fatigue disappears or remains a permanent life companion varies. The vast majority of patients do find their way back into their life situation, “but at a different performance level.”

Once fatigue has been diagnosed, patients need to become familiar with their condition. For many, the diagnosis is also a relief in a way: “A key factor is that patients and relatives really register the suffering and recognize it as such,” says Sabine Herzig. You usually don’t see the patients’ fatigue, so they often feel misunderstood.

The difference between fatigue and CFS
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) must be distinguished from fatigue after a serious illness. In this independent clinical picture, physical symptoms such as neck pain, muscle pain or headaches are added to the exhaustion.

By definition, the syndrome abbreviated CFS is only present after a course of at least six months. “This is usually a post-viral complication,” Herzig says. Often CFS occurs very suddenly, and the disease unexpectedly and very severely limits the quality of life.

Fatigue after corona infection
What fatigue symptoms after a Corona infection fall under is currently still the subject of research. “Fatigue can occur as part of a post-covid syndrome. For most, symptoms will resolve after a few weeks or months,” Herzig says. Those patients are not likely to fall into the two explained variants, according to the neurologist.

“However, there will definitely be those affected who develop chronic fatigue, as we know it after other severe infections, and for whom the previously reported then applies,” Herzig says.

  • with materials from the dpa/fitbook.de/picture: pixabay.com

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