Those suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome have frequently experienced a painful stigma from society. Because the syndrome had no known cause, despite study from the medical community, and revolved around complaints of unceasing tiredness, many criticized those complaining of the syndrome of being more like hypochondriacs than a victim of a physical disease. Now that recent study has revealed the former possible cause as invalid, chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers may justifiably be upset, both because a cure is further away and because they have faced prejudice in the past.
It was once thought that the cause for chronic fatigue syndrome might have been a bacteria or virus. Chronic fatigue syndrome study after chronic fatigue study showed that patients with the ailment had heightened levels of white blood cells. As white blood cells are in charge of immune responses, and a need for an immune response would naturally cause a higher white blood cell count, experts on chronic fatigue syndrome made the bacterial or virus connection. Thus, patients were prescribed antiretrovirals.
Why is the possible cause for chronic fatigue syndrome less valid today? The study that tore apart the previous hope for an identified cause is a little complex but can be broken down so the typical layman can understand. Previously, the cause for chronic fatigue syndrome was thought to be linked with a specific virus due to a study published two years ago. In this previous chronic fatigue syndrome study, a virus which was found in laboratory mice was also found in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer patients. However, further scrutiny into this study has revealed that the results could not be replicated, therefore discrediting previous conclusions about the cause for chronic fatigue syndrome having been a virus.
What do these conclusions mean to chronic fatigue syndrome research? Every study investigating the virus previously thought to be linked to chronic fatigue syndrome has been discontinued and chronic fatigue syndrome experts are no longer asserting that the cause for the syndrome may be a virus. Everything is back at square one. Accordingly, the medication chronic fatigue syndrome patients were being prescribed, the antiretrovirals, are no longer being offered. While chronic fatigue syndrome experts are halting any study into a cause which once seemed plausible, they are insisting that their current actions do not reflect a lack of cause for chronic fatigue syndrome and merely a lack of understanding of a cause. Medical staff take the syndrome seriously and are still looking for a cause, though they are not presently sure of where to look.
Westly, Erica. “Retrovirus No Longer Thought to Be Cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information