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The Doctor's Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


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Table of Contents

An Overview Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome * What Is CFIDS? Description Of An Illness * The Course of CFIDS * Could It Be Something Else? * CFIDS and Children The Tests * Laboratory Evaluation in CFIDS * Immunology of CFIDS * Epstein-Barr Virus * Research Testing * The Measurement of Disability Treatment of CFIDS * Prognosis or Outcome * General Treatment Principles * An Approach to Medication * What Does the Future Hold? The Search For A Cause * The Historical Perspective * Theories and Research * A Promising Theory

About the Author

David S. Bell, M.D., an instructor at the Harvard Medical School and a staff member of Cambridge Hospital, is on the board of directors and the scientific advisory committee of The CFIDS Association of America, a national non-profit organization that funds both CFIDS research and advocacy efforts.


This text is a physician's primer on Chronic Fatigue/Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), a condition whose hallmark is debilitating fatigue of six months' duration or longer. Initially dismissed as ``yuppie flu,'' CFIDS (``see-fids'') is a diagnosis of exclusion lacking a definitive lab test or biological marker. Bell, a leader in CFIDS research, writes clearly and passionately about its history, symptoms, theoretical causes, treatments, and research in progress. For a book from the patient's perspective, see Susan Conant's Living with Chronic Fatigue ( LJ 7/90). Recommended for popular health collections.-- Anne C. Tomlin, Auburn Memorial Hosp. Lib., N.Y.

Baptized by the press in 1985 as the ``Yuppie Flu,'' Chronic Fatigue/Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, otherwise known as CFIDS, is a bewilderingly little understood disease which combines severe fatigue with the presence of immune system markers. Bell, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, seeks to ``provide an overview of the current knowledge of CFIDS, including history, signs and symptoms, clinical course, laboratory findings and recent advances.'' The book is organized into five parts: an overview, a description of the disease, diagnostic tests, treatment options and the search for a cause. The author estimates that millions of Americans suffer from CFIDS, 30% of them children. The disease is still considered one of exclusion--a diagnosis of CFIDS is only considered when all other diseases which may cause the same groups of symptoms are ruled out. And diagnosis is difficult; the symptoms are misleading and may range from fatigue or exhaustion, headaches and muscle pain to depression, short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Bell describes the hardships patients encounter when they seek medical help due to the lack of information currently available about CFIDS. He also recognizes the frustration of physicians and researchers who want to alleviate the suffering but have not yet found a way. (Feb.)

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