Chronic fatigue syndrome is not rare, according to a new CDC report: It affects 3.3 million adults in the US.

Health officials on Friday released the first nationwide estimate of the number of American adults suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome: 3.3 million.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figure is higher than previous studies had suggested, and that number is likely to increase with the numbers of long-COVID patients. It’s clear that the condition “is not a rare disease,” said CDC’s Dr. Elizabeth Unger, who was one of the report’s authors.

chronic fatigue is characterized by at least six months of intense exhaustion which is not relieved by bed rest. Patients also report pain, brain fog, and other symptoms that may worsen after exercise, work, or other activity. There is no cure, no blood test or CT scan that allows for a quick diagnosis.

Nancy Rose organizes her desk on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 in Port Jefferson, New York. Rose became ill with COVID-19 in 2021 and continues to have long-term symptoms, including poor concentration and memory problems.Associated Press

Doctors have not been able to determine the cause of the condition, although research suggests that it is a prolonged, exaggerated reaction of the body to an infection or other shock to the immune system.

The disease rose to fame almost 40 years ago, when cases were recorded in Incline Village, Nevada, and Lyndonville, New York. Some doctors considered the illness psychosomatic and called it the “flu” yuppies“.

Some doctors still hold that view, experts and patients have said.

The doctors “They considered me a hypochondriac and they said it was just anxiety and depression,” said Hannah Powell, a 26-year-old woman from Utah who went undiagnosed for five years.

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The new CDC report is based on a survey of 57,000 American adults in 2021 and 2022. Participants were asked if a doctor or other health care professional had ever told them they had myalgic encephalomyelitis, or fatigue syndrome. chronicle, and if they still had it. About 1.3% of respondents answered affirmatively to both questions.

This is equivalent to about 3.3 million American adults, according to the CDC.

Among other findings are that the syndrome is more common in women than men, and more common in white people compared to other racial and ethnic groups. These results are consistent with previous smaller studies.

However, the results also contradict the long-held idea that chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease that affects wealthy, white women.

The difference between men and women was smaller than some previous studies have revealed, and there were almost no differences between blacks and whites. The study also found that a higher percentage of poor people said they suffered from it compared to people in better financial conditions.

These misperceptions may be because diagnosed and treated patients “traditionally tend to have a little more access to health care, and they may be believed a little more when they say they’re fatigued and can’t go to work,” the study said. Dr. Brayden Yellman, specialist at the Bateman Horne Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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The report was based on the patients’ recollections and did not verify their diagnoses through medical records.

That could lead to some exaggeration in the memoir, but experts believe that only a fraction of people with chronic fatigue syndrome are diagnosed, said Dr. Daniel Clauw, director of the Center for Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research. University of Michigan.

“In United States has never been a clinically popular diagnosis because there are no approved drugs to treat it. There are no treatment guidelines,” Clauw said.

The report likely includes some long-COVID patients who were suffering from long-term exhaustion, CDC officials explained.

Long COVID-19 is broadly defined as chronic health problems weeks, months or years after an acute coronavirus infection. Symptoms vary, but a subgroup of patients has the same problems that are seen in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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“We think it’s the same disease,” Yellman said. But prolonged COVID-19 is more accepted by doctors, and is being diagnosed much more quickly,” he indicated.

Powell, one of Yellman’s patients, was a high school athlete who fell ill during a trip to Belize before her senior year. The doctors thought it was malaria and she seemed to recover. But the young woman developed permanent fatigue, she had trouble sleeping and suffered from frequent vomiting. Little by little she had to stop playing sports and it was difficult for her to do her schoolwork, she said.

After five years, he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and began to gain some stability through regular infusions of fluids and medications. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and now works for an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.

Getting medical care remains a battle, he said.

“When I go to an emergency room or other doctor’s office, instead of saying I have chronic fatigue syndrome, I usually say that I have long COVID-19” Powell said. “Then they believe me almost immediately.”