The CDC defines CFS by the following guidelines:
" A thorough medical history, physical examination, mental status examination, and laboratory tests must be conducted to identify underlying or contributing conditions that require treatment. Diagnosis or classification cannot be made without such an evaluation.
Clinically evaluated, unexplained chronic fatigue cases can be classified as chronic fatigue syndrome if the patient meets both the following criteria:
1. Clinically evaluated, unexplained persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that is of new or definite onset (i.e., not lifelong), is not the result of ongoing exertion, is not substantially alleviated by rest, and results in substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities.
2. The concurrent occurrence of four or more of the following symptoms: substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multi-joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity; unrefreshing sleep; and post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours. These symptoms must have persisted or recurred during 6 or more consecutive months of illness and must not have predated the fatigue." (from the CDC's CFS pages)
The eight primary symptoms described in the CDC's case definition are listed above. Other symptoms common to CFIDS are listed below (please note that most PWCs do not have all these symptoms and that they are not required for diagnosis).
PWCs have cognitive problems in addition to difficulties with concentration and short-term memory (such as word-finding difficulties, inability to comprehend/retain what is read, inability to calculate numbers and impairment of speech and/or reasoning).
They also have visual disturbances (blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain, need for frequent prescription changes); psychological problems (depression, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, personality changes, mood swings); chills and night sweats; shortness of breath; dizziness and balance problems; sensitivity to heat and/or cold; alcohol intolerance; irregular heartbeat; irritable bowel (abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, intestinal as); low-grade fever or low body temperature; numbness, tingling and/or burning sensations in the face or extremities; dryness of the mouth and eyes (sicca syndrome); menstrual problems including PMS and endometriosis; chest pains; rashes; ringing in the ears (tinnitus); allergies and sensitivities to noise/sound, odors, chemicals and medications; weight changes without changes in diet; light-headedness; feeling in a fog; fainting; muscle twitching; and seizures."
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an emerging illness characterized by debilitating fatigue (experienced as exhaustion and extremely poor stamina), neurological problems, and a variety of flu-like symptoms. The illness is also known as chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), and outside of the USA is usually known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). In the past the syndrome has been known as Chronic Epstein-Barr virus (CEBV).
The core symptoms include excessive fatigue, general pain, mental fogginess, and often gastro-intestinal problems. Many other symptoms will also be present, however they will typically be different among different patients. These include: fatigue following stressful activities; headaches; sore throat; sleep disorder; abnormal temperature; and others.
The degree of severity can differ widely among patients, and will also vary over time for the same patient. Severity can vary between getting unusually fatigued following stressful events, to being totally bedridden and completely disabled. The symptoms will tend to wax and wane over time.
This variation, in addition to the fact that the cause of the disease is not yet known, makes this illness difficult to diagnose.
I am NOT a medical professional.
1Earth Media. All Rights Reserved. Last update 26th January 2013