Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Concise Definitions of the Three Related Epidemics

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an um­brella term for a multiple-symptom disorder characterized most commonly by the sudden onset of extreme, debilitating fatigue, pain in the muscles and joints, headaches, and poor concentration. The fatigue is not alle­viated by rest and results in a substantial reduction in previous levels of daily activity.

CFS is often cyclical, with periods of relative health followed by debilitation. Other symp­toms include depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, memory loss, allergies, recurring infections, and low-grade fever. According to the CDC, CFS predominantly affects white women, 25-45 years old.

Fibromyalgia is a multiple-symptom syn­drome primarily involving widespread mus­cle pain (myalgia) that can be debilitating in its severity.

The pain seems to be caused by the tightening and thickening of the myofascia, the thin film of tissue that holds the muscle together. Typical tender sites include the neck, upper back, rib cage, hips, and knees.

Other symptoms include general fatigue and stiffness, insomnia and sleep­ing disorders, anxiety, depression, mood swings, allergies, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, the sense of "hurting all over," tender skin, numbness, irritable bowel symptoms, dizziness, and exercise intoler­ance. Post-traumatic fibromyalgia is be­lieved to develop after a fall, whiplash, or back strain, whereas primary fibromyalgia has an uncertain origin. The majority of fibromyalgia sufferers are women between the ages of 34 and 56.

Environmental Illness is a multiple-symp­tom, debilitating, chronic disorder involving prolonged, heightened, and often incapaci­tating allergies or sensitivities to numerous common substances found in one's envi­ronment. Symptoms may include head­aches, fatigue, muscle pain and/or weak­ness, coughing or wheezing, asthma, weight loss, infections, and emotional fluctuations, depression, and irritability. The illness is sometimes referred to as "twentieth cen­tury disease" because patients become allergic to and functionally incompatible with many products and substances found in the modern world, such as car exhaust, synthetic carpets, plywood and other build­ing materials, cleaning agents, office machines, and plastics, among others.




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