World Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Day 2015 is marked every year on May 12, which is also the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing. This day has been designated as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness day as she probably suffered from this condition.
Nightingale was almost bedridden with an illness resembling Chronic Fatigue
(CFS). Though there was no diagnostic label back then, the
symptoms she experienced was almost like CFS. Despite the health hurdles she
faced, Florence Nightingale was the pioneer of the Red Cross Movement and
served as an inspiring army nurse. Hence, this day is marked on her birthday.
The awareness day came into being from 1992.
This is a
significant day as there is little awareness on this condition in the medical
communities and among public health professionals. This is a day to show
solidarity and support for people suffering from Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
People across the globe wear blue in honor of patients suffering from this
Some of the
celebrities suffering from CFIDS include Cher, Randy Newman (composer, singer
and pianist), and the author, Laura Hillenbrand.
What is Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)?
Syndrome (CFS), also known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
Day (CFIDS), is a debilitating condition with no known cure.
It also goes by
the label myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and is a complex chronic illness with
a history of long debates on its cause and occurrence. The Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) in America chose the name 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' in 1988. CFS
is not just about mild fatigue but causes extreme exhaustion along with a range
of other symptoms, which makes life challenging and difficult for sufferers.
CFIDS has long
been misunderstood by doctors and health care professionals often confusing it
with psychosomatic disorders. It was put down as "yuppie flu" when it first
came to public attention in the 1990s. It was believed to be simple fatigue
from overworking. However, researchers have uncovered several physiological
anomalies in the immune, neurological, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)
axis, cardiovascular and endocrine systems of patients. Thus, CFIDS is now
established as a real, medical condition.
both sexes and occurs in all racial and ethnic groups. People in their 40s and
50s are most likely to experience this condition though children and
adolescents are also prone though less common. Studies indicate that girls and
women are more prone to CFS with a greater severity.
The exact cause
of CFIDS is not yet known though medical researchers and scientists believe that
infection, immune system issues, stress-related hormone disorders, genetics and
epi-genetics are some of the causative factors. Scientists also believe that
psychiatric and emotional disorders also increase the risk of getting CFIDS.
Symptoms of CFIDS
It is often
difficult to diagnose CFIDS as the symptoms may be confused with other
conditions. Apart from extreme fatigue lasting for 6 months or more, some of
the other symptoms include:
- weakness and low energy
- loss of short-term memory
- poor concentration
- chronic joint pains
- chronic sore throat
- mild fever
- swollen lymph nodes
from individual to individual and may occur on and off. Patients often
experience periods of relapse and remission. While some patients may be able to
carry on with normal life activities, almost 25% are disabled by the condition.
CFIDS has a deep impact on work, family and all life activities. Since most
symptoms are invisible, patients often have a hard time as family, friends and
others may not understand or empathize with the discomfort and pain of
Apart from the
above diagnostic symptoms, patients with CFIDS often experience other
- visual disturbances (blurring, light sensitivity)
- mood swings, anxiety and panic attacks
- chills and night sweats
- irritable bowel and diarrhea
- allergies to various foods
- frequent dizziness and fainting
- gynecological issues like Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
CFIDS is often
confused with a range of other disorders like mononucleosis, chronic Lyme disease
and lupus because of the
overlapping symptoms. Symptoms require careful evaluation before diagnosing for
There is no
specific treatment for this condition. Treatment varies on a case-to-case basis
and is mostly symptomatic.
usually given for symptoms like flu, nausea, chronic joint pains and
depression. Medications are not curative though it improves the quality of
lives of suffering patients.
medications to ease the pain and discomfort of symptoms, people with CFIDS are
given counselling and supportive therapies to cope with daily issues.
Significance of World Chronic Fatigue and Immune
Dysfunction Syndrome Day 2015
A day dedicated
to CFIDS is significant in raising public awareness of this invisible but real
Prior to a
concrete diagnosis, patients with CFIDS are often misunderstood and their
symptoms go undiagnosed and untreated. This condition has often been ignored by
the medical community and healthcare providers who put it down as psychological
symptoms. With advances in medical research on CFIDS, it is now established
that this is a biological disorder with probable genetic linkages. A day
dedicated to CFIDS is important to make the medical and healthcare communities
sensitive to the living issues that go along with this disorder. This day is dedicated
to the suffering patients who face daily discomfort and pain along with
psychological suffering if their symptoms are not taken seriously.
This day intends to bring out into the open, the
psychological suffering of patients who are not diagnosed correctly. It is also
a day to advocate for better care, diagnosis, counselling support and research