Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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Is there a cure for CFS/SEID?

Although some people may spontaneously have a reduction or cessation of some symptoms of CFS/SEID, especially with treatments described above, there is no known cure for CFS/SEID. The current goal is to relieve symptoms; accomplishing symptom reduction is often done by several different activities that patients can use at the same time. Such combined activity (or therapy) may include the following:

  • Healthy diet (increasing fruits and vegetables and avoiding fatty foods); some claim adding the following herbals and diet products to the patient's diet may reduce symptoms (astragalus, borage seed oil, bromelain, comfrey, Echinacea, garlic, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, primrose oil, quercetin, St. John's wort, maca, pau d'arco, spirulina, and Shiitake mushroom extract), but patients should check with their doctors before using such items.
  • Exercise (regular daily exercise programmed for the individual patient)
  • Intellectual stimulation (may require cognitive-behavorial therapy)
  • Testing for sleep apnea and receive sleep-management therapy if needed
  • Medication for pain and discomfort
  • Anti-anxiety and /or antidepressant medication

What is the prognosis (outcome) for CFS/SEID?

Because full recovery from CFS/SEID is very infrequent (only 5%-10% of adult patients diagnosed), the prognosis usually ranges from fair to poor. Many patients can only work at part-time jobs; some patients become bedridden. Mental impairment, especially memory loss and the ability to concentrate are very disconcerting to CFS/SEID patients. Even with symptomatic treatment, some patients may continue with a slow decline in their ability to function. Some studies suggest that even about two years after diagnosis and symptomatic treatment, over half of the CFS/SEID patients still were fatigued.

The prognosis for children is better than that for adults as most children recover completely after about one to four years of treatment; although during recovery, they often have problems in school with attention and memory. Many will also have anxiety and depression. Researchers suggest that cognitive-behavioral therapy is a major effective treatment for adolescents with CFS/SEID.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2015

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