While fatigue is a common symptom in many illnesses, CFS/ME is a multi-symptom disease and
is relatively rare by comparison. Definitions require a number of features, the most
common being severe mental and physical exhaustion which is "unrelieved by rest" and may
be worsened by even trivial exertion. Most diagnostic criteria insist that the symptoms
must be present for at least six months, and all insist on there being no other cause
for them: i.e. the symptoms must not caused by other medical conditions such as
diabetes, hypothyroidism or anemia.
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It is unclear if these symptoms represent co-morbid conditions or are produced by the
same underlying etiology as CFS itself. Some cases improve over time, and treatments
(though none are universally accepted) bring a degree of improvement to many others,
though resolution is rare.
CFS/ME occurs more often, but not exclusively, in women, possibly due to
immunological factors or hormonal changes. CFS/ME is most easily
diagnosed when formerly active adults become ill, and is most commonly diagnosed in young
to middle aged adults, although it is also reported in children, adolescents and the
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