• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis and Tests

The diagnosis of CFS is one of exclusion, where all other possible illnesses are ruled out one by one to finally arrive at it.

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.