Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) can be complicated
by a number of factors:
- There's no diagnostic laboratory test or bio-marker for CFS/ME.
- Fatigue and other symptoms of CFS/ME are common to many illnesses
- CFS/ME is an invisible illness and many patients don't look sick
- The illness has a pattern of remission and relapse
- Symptoms vary from person to person in type, number and severity
- No two CFS/ME patients have exactly the same symptom set
These factors have contributed to an alarmingly low diagnosis rate. Of the four
million Americans who have CFS/ME, less than 20% have been diagnosed.
Because there is no blood test, brain scan or other lab test to diagnose CFS/ME, it's
a diagnosis of exclusion. Your health care professional will first take a detailed
patient history, including a review of medications that could be causing your fatigue.
A thorough physical and mental status examination will also be performed. Next, a battery
of laboratory screening tests will be ordered to help identify or rule out other
possible causes of your symptoms. Your professional may also order additional tests to
follow up on results of the initial screening tests.
Your clinician should consider a diagnosis of CFS/ME if these two criteria are met:
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
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Postexertional malaise (extreme, prolonged exhaustion and sickness following physical
or mental activity)
- Un refreshing 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
In addition, a number of minor symptoms may also appear:
- Poor sleep
- Brain fog
- Increased thirst
- Bowel disorders
- Recurrent infections
- Exhausting after minimal exertion
Chronic fatigue syndrome can resemble many other illnesses, including
mononucleosis, chronic lyme disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis,
primary sleep disorders, severe obesity and major depressive disorders. Medications
can also cause side effects that mimic the symptoms of CFS/ME.
Because CFS/ME can resemble many other disorders, it's important not to self-diagnose
CFS/ME. It's not uncommon for people to mistakenly assume they have chronic fatigue
syndrome when they have another illness that needs to be treated. If you have CFS/ME
symptoms, consult a health care professional to determine if any other conditions
are responsible for your symptoms. A CFS/ME diagnosis can be made only after other
conditions have been excluded.
It's also important not to delay seeking a diagnosis and medical care. CDC research
suggests that early diagnosis and treatment of CFS/ME can increase the likelihood
You May Also Like