Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
By Karen Lee Richards, ChronicPainConnection Lead Expert
Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalopathy or ME/CFS) should be diagnosed by a physician who is familiar with the illness and regularly treats ME/CFS patients.
Because the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome closely resemble several other illnesses, it is important that the doctor run tests to rule them out. A few conditions that are similar to and/or may occur along with ME/CFS include:
- Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic Lyme disease
- Mercury poisoning
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Primary sleep disorders
- Gulf War syndrome
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has developed the following criteria for diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Unexplained, persistent fatigue that’s not due to ongoing exertion, isn’t substantially relieved by rest, is of new onset (not lifelong) and results in a significant reduction in previous levels of activity.
- Four or more of the following symptoms are present for six months or more:
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Postexertional malaise (extreme, prolonged exhaustion and sickness following physical or mental activity)
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Muscle pain
- Multi-joint pain without swelling or redness
- Headaches of a new type or severity
- Sore throat that’s frequent or recurring
- Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
More information on More info on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosis
“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” MayoClinic.com, 2005.
“Diagnosing CFS,” Center for Disease Control, 5/3/06.
Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.