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* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
Fibromyalgia, and
Chemical Sensitivity


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What Are:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (aka CFS, ME, CFIDS),
Fibromyalgia (aka Fibro, FM, FMS),
Chemical Sensitivity (aka CS, MCS, EI)

Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chemical sensitivity are chronic, debilitating conditions that have overlapping symptoms.

They can occur at any age, in persons of any race or gender, and with great variation in severity.

Early symptoms are often mistaken for allergies or the flu.

When one or more of these conditions affect a person, the lives of all members of the household are disrupted.

Children and adolescents suffer especially because these conditions impact not only their physical health but also their emotional, social, and educational development.

Some contributing factors are known and current research is suggesting further answers, but much remains to be discovered about these profoundly life-affecting conditions.

Overlapping Symptoms

The symptoms seen in CFS, FM, and CS frequently overlap, although certain symptoms predominate in each condition. Each personís symptoms are unique, and more than one condition can occur in an individual.

Symptoms may include:

  • persistent fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating, memory loss, cognitive dysfunction
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • disrupted or unrefreshing sleep
  • sore throat / tender lymph nodes
  • respiratory problems
  • headache
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • irregular or abnormal blood preassure and heart rate
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • food and medication sensitivities

Distinguishing Features

Chronic fatigue syndrome: Prolonged, disabling fatigue with post-exertional malaise

Fibromyalgia: Widespread muscle and joint pain with tender points

Chemical sensitivity: Reactions induced by exposure to previously tolerated chemicals


With diligence and ongoing interventions, many people can reduce their symptoms.

Treatment is multifaceted, usually centers on symptom relief, and is tailored to address each individualís set of symptoms.

Getting better involves many lifestyle changes and requires the cooperation of family, friends, and caregivers.

It is important to consult knowledgeable and understanding health care professionals.

Treatments may include:

  • treating imbalances of the endocrine, neurological, and immune systems
  • relieving pain
  • improving sleep
  • identifying and avoiding environmental toxins
  • detoxification
  • improving nutrition
  • making necessary accommodations in the home, at work, and at school
  • modifying lifestyle and activity levels
  • reducing social isolation