Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Women

Chronic Fatigue

Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) is characterized by persistent and debilitating fatigue and additional nonspecific symptoms such as sore throat, headache, tender muscles, joint pain, difficulty thinking, and loss of short-term memory. Estimates show that CFIDS affects as many as 500,000 persons in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of those diagnosed with the syndrome are women.



The American College of Rheumatology reports fibromyalgia affects 3 million to 6 million Americans. An estimated 80 percent of sufferers are women, most of whom are of childbearing age. Fibromyalgia is a common disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain; fatigue; and multiple tender points in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. People with fibromyalgia may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and other symptoms.

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Nearly 26.4 million of the 42.7 million Americans with arthritis are women. It is the most common and disabling chronic condition reported by women. An estimated 4.6 million American women (or 4.6 percent of this population) report that arthritis limits their daily activities. Higher rates are reported among African American (6.5 percent) and Native American women (6.9 percent) than among white women (4.2 percent).

The term arthritis commonly refers to a group of more than 100 diseases of the muscles, tendons, joints, bones, or nerves. These conditions range from mild to severe. Arthritis most commonly causes pain or stiffness in the joints of the hands, feet, knees, and hips. Risk factors including increasing age, injury, obesity, and genetic predisposition. Although arthritis is more common among the elderly, half of all Americans affected by the disease are under the age of 65. Treatment for arthritis includes medication, exercise, use of heat or cold on the affected area, weight control, and surgery.

Additional Resources

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