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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Conventional Approaches to CFS

There are no prescription medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating CFS. There are, however, a number of medications used to treat the various symptoms of CFS, depending on the subclass of the disease and how it manifests itself. These medications include antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, central nervous system depressants (or stimulants), mineralocorticoids, and expectorants (Evengard 2002; Kasper 2005).

One medication showing potential is Ampligen ®, an experimental antiviral medication that stimulates the production of interferon. In two studies, CFS patients treated with Ampligen ® demonstrated improvements in cognition and performance. The drug has not yet been approved by the FDA and is in various stages of approval around the world for a wide range of conditions (No authors listed 2004).

What You Have Learned So Far . . .

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by long-term fatigue, as well as sleep-related difficulties, cognitive difficulties, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, or other symptoms.
  • The cause of CFS is unknown, although it can be triggered by a wide range of events. There may be multiple causes.
  • It is estimated to affect about 500,000 people in the United States, although it mostly affects women age 25 to 45.
  • The diagnosis of CFS is made by excluding other conditions that can have similar symptoms, such as depression or viral illness. A variety of blood tests and other analyses are sometimes needed to rule out other conditions and correctly diagnose CFS. It is still frequently misdiagnosed.
  • There is no standard, approved treatment for CFS.