Chronic fatigue syndrome defines a range of illnesses including fibromyalgia and Gulf War syndrome, all of which have fatigue as a major symptom. Even among medical professionals, there is a disagreement about the causes, diagnosis and treatment of CFS because so much about the disorder remains unknown. One reason CFS is difficult to diagnose is because it shares symptoms with many other diseases, including multiple sclerosis and lupus. Even when other illnesses are ruled out and a CFS diagnosis is given, there is not a standardized course of treatment and it's difficult for doctors to measure patient improvement. Estimates are that two to four times as many women as men are diagnosed with CFS.
The Georgetown study, published in the November edition of the BMC Neurology Journal, an online publication, reveals that patients diagnosed with CFS and its family of illnesses have a set of proteins in their spinal cord fluid that were not detected in healthy individuals. These proteins might give insight into the causes of CFS and could someday be used as markers to diagnose patients with the disorder.
"For years, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have suffered from painful symptoms for which there is no blood test, diagnosable physical condition or any method for doctors to measure improvement," said James Baraniuk, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and first author on the study. "Our research provides initial evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome and its family of illnesses may be legitimate, neurological diseases and that at least part of the pa
Contact: Liz McDonald
Georgetown University Medical Center