Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Home > Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Who It Affects

Some people wonder about chronic fatigue syndrome and who it affects. It is estimated that as many as half a million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome. While chronic fatigue syndrome was primarily associated with upper-class women in the early 1980s (hence the name "yuppie flu"), CFS affects people of all ages, economic situations, and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Who It Affects: A Summary

It is estimated that as many as half a million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). In the early 1980s, CFS was first called the "yuppie flu" because mostly well-educated women with high incomes in their 30s and 40s sought help for chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. It is now known that CFS affects people of all:
  • Ages
  • Racial and ethnic backgrounds
  • Economic situations.


CFS is not just an American illness; people all over the world are affected by chronic fatigue syndrome.

Although more women than men are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, it is not known for sure that chronic fatigue syndrome affects more women than men. Researchers believe that women may be more likely than men to talk to their doctors about symptoms like exhaustion and pain.
(Click Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms for more information.)

Children and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome research studies have found that adolescents (children 12 to 18 years of age) can have CFS. A recently published study revealed that CFS affects more adults than adolescents and that CFS does not affect children under 12 years of age. However, the study did find that children under 12 years of age have experienced an illness similar to chronic fatigue syndrome.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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