Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndromeby Karen Lee Richards Patient Advocate
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
Chronic Lyme disease
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)
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.