What is Central Sensitivity Syndrome, and why is it difficult to diagnose?

Written by: Top Doctors®
Published: | Updated: 12/12/2018
Edited by: Top Doctors®


Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS) encompasses diseases that are difficult to diagnose, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity, among others.



What is Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS)?


CSS is a new entity within modern medicine that encompasses a series of chronic conditions with common characteristics. It was discovered and named by Dr. Yunus in 1994.

CSS causes sensitization by things processed within the central nervous system. Things such as bright lights, loud noises, strong smells etc. can all cause irritation that manifests in different areas of the body.


Which diseases does CSS include in addition to fibromyalgia?


CSS encompasses a whole range of conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint syndrome, migraine or a tension headache, irritable bladder syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivities.


Is it difficult to diagnose this syndrome?


Diagnosis is difficult because patients have different symptoms usually treated by different specialists, such as a neurologist for headaches, gastroenterologist for digestive symptoms and the rheumatologist for muscular pains or fatigue. Each physician works within the limits of their specialty, which makes diagnosis difficult. They are not seeing the whole picture, so treatments tend to be symptomatic.

More recently, diagnosis is made from the patient's symptoms, supported by physical examinations and by analytical studies of cellular sensitization to chemicals or foods. Also by way of research, diagnostic techniques such as thermography, calorimetry or cell damage studies are being tested, and are proving they can also be useful in diagnosis. There are also imaging techniques where neuronal hyper-excitability to certain stimuli can be seen, but it is only used for research at present.


What causes CSS?


This syndrome occurs due to irregularities in the functions of the central nervous system, immune system and endocrine system.

The causes of these abnormalities and irregularities are unknown, except for hyper-excitability of central nervous system neurons and hypersensitivity of the immune system. It is suspected that the onset of the condition may be related to stressful events or some types of allergy or hormonal changes.

It is thought that the development of this condition, which is becoming increasingly more common, is related to the way of life and the lack of adaptation to the modern environment some people experience. Nowadays, we are more exposed to a multitude of stimuli than before: food, chemicals, climate change, electromagnetic fields, pollution.


By Topdoctors

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