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Medication Use by Persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Results of a Randomized Telephone Survey in Wichita, Kansas
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  • Description:
    Background

    Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by profound fatigue, which substantially interferes with daily activities, and a characteristic symptom complex. Patients use a variety of prescribed and self-administered medications, vitamins, and supplements for relief of their symptoms. The objective of this study was to describe utilization of medications and supplements by persons with CFS and non-fatigued individuals representative of the general population of Wichita, Kansas.

    Methods

    We used a random-digit dialing telephone survey to identify persons with CFS in the general population of Wichita, Kansas. Subjects who on the basis of telephone interview met the CFS case definition, and randomly selected non-fatigued controls, were invited for a clinic evaluation that included self-reported use of medications and supplements. Sex-adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence interval were estimated to measure the association between CFS and use of various drug categories.

    Results

    We clinically evaluated and classified 90 subjects as CFS during the study and also collected clinical data on 63 who never described fatigue. Subjects with CFS reported using 316 different drugs compared to 157 reported by non-fatigued controls. CFS subjects were more likely to use any drug category than controls (p = 0.0009). Pain relievers and vitamins/supplements were the two most common agents listed by both groups. In addition CFS persons were more likely to use pain relievers, hormones, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, gastro-intestinal, and central nervous system medications (Sex-adjusted odds ratios range = 2.97 – 12.78).

    Conclusion

    Although the reasons for increased use of these agents were not elucidated, the data indicated the CFS patients' need for symptom relief.

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