The diagnosis of CFS is one of exclusion, where all other possible illnesses are ruled out one by one to finally arrive at it.
DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR CFS:
Diagnosing CFS is a challenge because:
- There is no specific lab test or biomarker for CFS. One has to rely on detailed history and clinical examination by an experienced doctor.
- Fatigue and other symptoms of CFS are commonly found in many illnesses.
- The illness is not very obvious even to doctors.
- There are remissions and relapses of CFS.
- Symptoms of CFS vary from person to person in type, severity, and number.
Unexplained, severe, persistent fatigue for 6 months or more, along with at least four of the following signs and symptoms:
- Forgetfulness or poor concentration
- Sore throat that occurs frequently or recurrently
- Enlarged and tender lymph nodes in neck or armpits
- Unexplained persistent muscle pain
- Joint pain without swelling or redness
- Headache of a new type, pattern or severity, not experienced by the patient in the past
- Unrefreshing sleep- waking up feeling tired and not refreshed
- Extreme exhaustion after physical or mental exertion lasting more than 24 hours
The specific features of fatigue must be:
- It is severe and incapacitating (interferes with normal day-to-day functioning).
- It does not improve by complete rest.
- It becomes worse with physical activity or mental exertion.
- It is an all-encompassing fatigue and significantly reduces the person's activity levels and stamina.
- Other causes for the fatigue such as medical illnesses, usual stress from lack of sleep or other stressful event must be ruled out by a medical professional.