"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

New report increases estimates of chronic fatigue syndrome within the US

December 8, 2023 – More people than previously thought could also be affected by chronic fatigue syndrome, based on a brand new federal report.

The characteristic symptom of the condition is extreme fatigue, but it could actually also include a spread of other symptoms reminiscent of dizziness and joint pain, all of which might flare up after exercise. About one in 100 U.S. adults surveyed reported affected by chronic fatigue syndrome (also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis). This is based on data collected in 2021 and 2022 as a part of the CDC's National Health Interview Survey. The report was based on 57,133 survey responses.

Survey data can sometimes end in overcounting because an individual's diagnosis has not been confirmed using medical records. But this latest one CDC report on the subject of chronic fatigue syndrome haven't been met with skepticism by some experts, who consider the condition has been largely underdiagnosed.

“It has never become a clinically popular diagnosis in the United States because there are no approved medications for it. There are no treatment guidelines for it,” said Daniel Clauw, MD, director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center on the University of Michigan The Associated Press.

The latest report also challenged another widely held beliefs about chronic fatigue syndrome, reminiscent of that it's primarily a condition that affects wealthy, white women. Instead, survey data showed that there aren't any major gender differences within the condition: 0.9% of men and 1.7% of ladies reported being affected by it. People with lower incomes were also more more likely to report affected by chronic fatigue syndrome.

The survey showed that there was no significant difference between rates of chronic fatigue syndrome in whites and blacks, although white people were more more likely to have it in comparison with Asians and Hispanics. Black people were more more likely to have chronic fatigue syndrome in comparison with Asians.

The discrepancy between previous metrics and these latest data may reflect systemic problems within the U.S. healthcare landscape, including unequal access and discrimination.

People who're diagnosed and treated for chronic fatigue syndrome “traditionally have a little better access to health care and are perhaps a little more believed when they say they are tired and continue to be tired and can't go to work.” “Brayden Yellman, MD, a specialist at the Bateman Horne Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, told the AP.

When researchers analyzed the information by age, they found that chronic fatigue syndrome is more common as people become older. But then the disease rate drops amongst people aged 70 and over.

CDC officials told the AP that individuals with long COVID, which shares some symptoms with chronic fatigue syndrome, could also be among the many latest people included on this latest survey. The latest estimates that 1.3% of U.S. adults have chronic fatigue syndrome mean it could affect as much as 3.3 million people.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is clearly “not a rare disease,” report creator Elizabeth Unger, MD, PhD, of the CDC, told the AP.