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What is Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Post-viral fatigue syndrome is a condition in which a person experiences an extended period of fatigue and malaise, which is a general feeling of being unwell. Besides these symptoms, a person with this condition may feel mentally exhausted, have muscle or joint pain, experience headaches, and have problems focusing. Sometimes the condition is accompanied by memory problems and swollen glands as well. Additionally, some people with post-viral fatigue syndrome also develop a chronic cough, experience dizziness, have problems sleeping, or sleep too much. Depression and panic attacks may develop as well.

Also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome is typically more common in women than it is in men. Doctors and scientists are not sure of the exact causes of this syndrome, but they have many theories. Some believe the cause may be allergies, an improperly functioning immune system, or hormonal changes. Low blood sugar and low blood pressure may be contributing factors as well. Some scientists believe infection with the Epstein-Barr virus or other viruses may also play a role in the development of this condition.

A person who has post-viral fatigue syndrome often experiences fatigue that does not improve, even after he is well rested. Often, a person with this condition feels generally fatigued most of the time but may also experience an extended period of almost debilitating exhaustion after exertion that is either physical or mental nature. In many cases, the fatigue a person with this condition experiences is severe enough to interfere with work, socializing, and a range of activities he usually enjoys.

In many cases, a person with this condition feels generally unwell most of the time. In addition to feeling fatigue, he may have a persistent sore throat or a chronic cough. Muscle pain is common among people with this condition, and achy joints often become a problem as well. Headaches, dizziness, and memory and concentration problems may also result. Some patients have difficulty sleeping or sleep too much, become depressed, or experience panic attacks when they have post-viral fatigue syndrome.

Unfortunately, there is no single treatment that is proven effective for post-viral fatigue syndrome. Often, doctors try a combination approach by treating the symptoms of the disorder and encouraging exercise. Cognitive therapy may prove helpful as well. Additionally, there are some medications, such as antiviral drugs and immune system boosters, that may be used to treat the syndrome on an experimental basis.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Jun 03, 2013

@burcidi-- I agree with you. Doctors don't know if someone is suffering from syndrome unless they check for viral antibodies in the blood. This syndrome can mimic a lot of other conditions.

By burcidi — On Jun 03, 2013

As far as I know, post-viral fatigue syndrome is exactly what the name says. It's a period when the body is trying to recuperate after a recent viral infection. Viral infections wreak havoc with the immune system and it can take months and even up to a year to recover. It's usually diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia but I think they're all basically the same thing.

By ysmina — On Jun 02, 2013

I'm not sure if this is considered post-viral fatigue syndrome but I had all of these symptoms when I had hypothyroidism.

I was always tired, had muscle aches and a sore throat. I didn't know what the problem was for a long time. I had actually started suspecting that I had chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. I saw an endocrinologist and had blood tests done. My thyroid hormones came out too low and that's how I was diagnosed.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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