A small subset of interstitial cystitis (IC) patients also have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Though most at-risk group for CFS appears to be women, CFS strikes people in every age, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic group.

As the name “chronic fatigue syndrome” suggests, this illness is accompanied by fatigue. However, it is not the kind of fatigue that one experiences after a particularly busy day or week, a sleepless night, or stressful events. It is a severe, incapacitating fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Although its name may seem to trivialize the illness as little more than tiredness, CFS brings with it a constellation of debilitating symptoms. The fatigue of CFS is accompanied by characteristic symptoms lasting at least six months, including sleep difficulties, problems with concentration and short-term memory, flu-like symptoms, pain in the joints and muscles, tender lymph nodes, sore throat, and headache. A distinctive hallmark of the illness is “postexertional malaise,” a worsening of symptoms following physical or mental exertion that can require an extended recovery time.

The severity of CFS varies greatly from patient to patient, with some people able to maintain fairly active lives. For others, CFS has a profound impact. About 25 percent of people with CFS are disabled by the illness, and there is often a pattern of relapse and remission. Most symptoms are invisible to others, which makes it difficult for friends, family members, and the public to understand the challenges of CFS.

For the latest information about CFS, visit the CFIDS Association of America website.

Revised Wednesday, March 25th, 2015