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Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis) may vary significantly from one person to another. However, the most common sign is extreme tiredness.

Chronic fatigue syndrome makes it difficult for an individual to complete even simple daily tasks. Any physical or mental activity they could comfortably do in the past becomes a burden. Therefore, individuals with chronic fatigue require time to recover once they exert any strain on their bodies. Some activities could even confine [1*] them to bed. In this post, let’s have a more detailed look at the symptoms of this condition.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is not a simple tiredness but a serious medical condition. Consult a doctor if you notice the symptoms of CFS.

How Can Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Manifest Itself

Generally, people define chronic fatigue as extreme tiredness. However, there are many other symptoms associated with this syndrome.

  • Fatigue that goes on for more than six months. The patient can barely do activities they could before. Despite having ample rest, they still complain they’re tired. You will notice that the tiredness isn’t a result of any strenuous activity.
  • Post-external malaise (PEM). PEM occurs when the patient uses lots of energy on a mental, physical or emotional activity. Other chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms intensify, and the patient experiences a ‘relapse’ or ‘crash.’ Consequently, they require a day or two to regain their energy.
  • Sleep difficulties. The individual has trouble staying asleep or falling asleep. Additionally, despite a full night’s sleep, people with chronic fatigue complain they‘re tired.
  • Cognitive dysfunction that causes issues with concentration, memory, and thinking. Patients find it difficult to remember things they should or pay attention to details.
  • Orthostatic intolerance. An individual feels dizzy or lightheaded when standing or sitting upright. They sometimes have blurry vision.

Other common symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include:

  • Pain in the joints
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Other associated health problems such as depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia

Only a doctor can diagnose chronic fatigue based on a thorough examination of your symptoms.

Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

If you notice the symptoms listed above, you must visit your clinic for a diagnosis made by your physician. There is no standardized chronic fatigue syndrome test. The doctor will rule out the possibility of another ailment based on your symptoms. For instance, fibromyalgia has symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, memory, and sleep issues that resemble chronic fatigue syndrome.

Your physician will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms. They may also conduct blood and urine tests to exclude any underlying pathology. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There remains no known cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. However, doctors highlight several factors as potential triggers. These include:

  • Trauma. Some patients state that they experienced physical or emotional stress before they were diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Hormonal imbalance. Hormones [2*] produced by the adrenal glands, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands can be at abnormal levels in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. However, physicians are yet to conclude whether hormonal imbalances are responsible for chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Viral infections. Some patients with the human herpes virus (HHV)-6, human parvovirus B19, and Epstein-Barr [3*] virus tend to develop chronic fatigue syndrome. Therefore, doctors believe some viral infections could be responsible for chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Genes [4*] . A positive family history is associated with an elevated risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome in the younger generations.

Chronic fatigue syndrome usually affects young and middle-aged adults, although it can affect individuals at any age. Additionally, diagnosis indicates that more women [5*] than men have chronic fatigue syndrome.

MEDvidi doctors will help you define the root cause of chronic fatigue syndrome and will develop an individual treatment plan for you.

Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There is no cure for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome focuses on reducing the intensity and effects of symptoms. The following are some treatments that physicians use to treat chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Medication
    In acute cases of chronic fatigue syndrome, over-the-counter medication can treat symptoms such as pain. This way, a patient can reduce pain and sleep better at night. Your physician can use fibromyalgia drugs in severe cases where regular painkillers don’t eliminate pain. Also, comorbid conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and depression can be treated with antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and sleep medications.
  • Therapy
    Therapy will relieve chronic fatigue as it will reduce the impact of some symptoms. Treatment can focus on the following:
    • Managing sleep Issues. An adult with sleep deprivation is irritable. Worse, with chronic fatigue syndrome, insufficient sleep triggers all other symptoms. Your therapist may recommend changing your bedtime routine and hygiene to ensure you avoid behaviors that disrupt your sleep.
    • Counseling. A therapist will help you address your anxiety and depression as you talk during your sessions. Moreover, they provide ideas and solutions for coping with changes at work or home caused by the condition. This way, you can reduce worrying about the circumstances around you.
    • Exercise. Although intense workouts can trigger instances where symptoms relapse, mild exercises can be beneficial for chronic fatigue. You will train your body how to handle physical activities without collapsing. With time, you will be able to handle more intense workouts.

In Conclusion

Chronic fatigue affects both the patient and those around them. However, with the proper support and treatment, an individual can learn how to cope and live with the disorder. If you notice any disturbing symptoms from those discussed above, consider seeing a doctor for an early diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.


5 sources
  1. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    Source link
  2. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): An Overview. (2021)
    Source link
  3. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the Era of the Human Microbiome: Persistent Pathogens Drive Chronic Symptoms by Interfering With Host Metabolism, Gene Expression, and Immunity. (2018)
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  4. Genome-wide association analysis identifies genetic variations in subjects with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. (2016)
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  5. What is ME/CFS?
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.