Sometimes it seems like the sole purpose of life is to pack as much into each day as possible. This is not a totally positive thing, IMO, and it's unfortunately not uncommon to feel really freaking tired and burnt out as a result. But if you've ever suspected that your exhaustion is more than merely a symptom of moving a mile a minute while juggling multiple balls in the air, then you might want to be mindful of the signs of chronic fatigue syndrome — especially since they can be hard to spot.
For a bit more background, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a neuro-immune disorder that causes extreme levels of exhaustion, Emily Taylor, director of advocacy and community relations for the Solve ME/CFS Initiative, tells Elite Daily in an email. It's also considered to be what's called a spectrum disorder, Taylor adds, which means people can experience mild, moderate, or severe levels of the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's thought that somewhere between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans may have ME/CFS, "but most of them have not been diagnosed."
The truth is, there's still a lot about CFS/ME that is relatively unknown, including the cause, how it develops, and sometimes even how to treat it, because the symptoms can often mimic those of other health conditions, as per Mayo Clinic. But in a positive recent development, a study from King's College in London, published in the scientific journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, has revealed a possible link between the immune system and the development of CFS. After gathering data on 55 hospital patients receiving treatment for hepatitis C — which often causes long-term fatigue, CNN reports — researchers found that, of the 18 patients who did experience fatigue post-treatment, those volunteers also showed a "greater immune response," according to the news outlet. In other words, as lead researcher Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at King's College London, told CNN, for "people that develop CFS in response to an infection, they do so because their immune system is primed to hyper react."
Again, there's still so much we don't know about CFS, but research like this can hopefully pave the way for new discoveries and treatments. For now, if you feel like there's a chance you or someone you know could be experiencing CFS, here are some of the basic signs to consider. If you feel like any of these apply to you, be sure to check in with your doctor for further care.