How To Know If You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex condition marked by extreme fatigue that lasts for a minimum of six months that can not be completely explained by another medical condition. CFS fatigue is characterized by worsening with physical or mental exercise (post-exertional malaise) but is not alleviated with ample rest. Meaning, that CFS can cause everyday activities to become impossible. There are times when people with CFS are unable to get out of bed.
Presently the exact cause of CFS is unidentified, although there are several working theories varying from viral infections to a chronic inflammatory response syndrome. It is, however, becoming more commonly accepted in the scientific community that chronic fatigue syndrome might be brought on by a combination of elements such as exposure to toxins, anesthetics, gastroenteritis, or physical or emotional trauma. Given the range of triggers and how they impact the immune system, CFS can have a sudden or gradual onset.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). However, the most recent term is systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).
How do I know if I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Due to there being no specific cause of ME/CFS, there is no specific test used to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. ME/CFS can be difficult to recognize as many of the symptoms of the illness – extreme fatigue, not alleviated by sleep, worsening symptoms after physical or mental effort (post-exertional malaise), and problems concentrating, among other symptoms are also present in other medical conditions.
If you suspect you might be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, it is important to see your doctor. Due to the lack of a specific or direct chronic fatigue syndrome test, such as an antibodies test, your doctors may begin to eliminate other conditions that may explain your symptoms based on a set of diagnostic criteria.
To begin the diagnosis process doctors will check for several key criteria that must be present which include extreme fatigue (lasting for 6 months or longer), which does not improve with bed rest or sleep.
Next, doctors inquire through questions and a physical exam to see if you are suffering from three of the “core” symptoms of ME/CFS:
- Reduced capacity to partake in usual activities for a minimum of six months due to fatigue
- Declining symptoms (trouble thinking, difficulty sleeping, sore throat, headaches, joint pain, dizziness, or severe exhaustion) after a physical or mental effort
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and waking up feeling unrested
Along with the three core symptoms, you suffer from at least one of the symptoms below for a diagnosis of ME/CFS:
- Issues with thinking and memory
- Exacerbation of symptoms while standing or sitting upright (lightheadedness, dizziness, physical weakness, blurred vision, or seeing spots in the visual field)
Additional common symptoms and co-occurrences in CFS patients:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Abnormalities in respiratory function
- Muscle pain and joint pain
- Limbic system dysfunction or impairment
- Reactivation of latent viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Presence of Lyme disease
- Sleep problems and sleep disorders leading to unrefreshing sleep and a sense inescapable tiredness
- Reduced capacity to recover from physical activity
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system
Do you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? - Try this CFS Symptoms Quiz
While not meant to serve as a replacement for the diagnosis or treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) by a healthcare provider, this symptoms quiz can be used for your own knowledge by helping to provide you with a baseline for your level of symptom severity that can be reassessed to see changes over time, as you apply your therapeutic approach.
How does this self-assessment work?
For each of the following questions, you will be asked to select one of the following options to indicate the frequency of your symptoms: never, very rarely, rarely, occasionally, frequently, or always. Your unique answers will then be used to calculate your results and determine whether your symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. Further unique educational information will be shown in accordance with your results, and all results are strictly confidential.
Please note and acknowledge that this self-assessment is not intended to establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician or health care professional, or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The aim of this quiz is to provide education about the condition. By filling out this self-assessment and clicking “calculate” you acknowledge that you’ve read and agree with this statement and agree to re-origin’s Terms & Conditions.
Take the CFS Symptoms Quiz
How often do you find yourself:
Health risk related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
ME/CFS can cause various grades of disability in individual people. Similar to other chronic conditions, ME/CFS can range anywhere from mild to severe.
- Mild – The Sufferer’s activity is decreased by at least 50 percent
- Moderate – The sufferer is mainly housebound
- Severe – The sufferer is bed-bound and reliant on assistance for all daily care
People suffering from ME/CFS are often too affected by symptoms to work effectively, attend school, socialize, and handle personal affairs. This can lead to a person’s financial well-being declining. It is also common in the community to misunderstand ME/CFS and claim that a sufferer is simply tired, that the conditions are psychosomatic, and that sufferers should simply push through their symptoms. These outlooks are not unhelpful but can also compel a person with ME/CFA to push beyond their limitations, which can cause deterioration and cause their illness to worsen.
Healing & Recovering from CFS
While currently there is no specific medically approved treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. There is much that can be done to manage and reduce symptoms with the right tools and techniques. Individuals present different symptoms and consequently need distinct forms of treatment to address the disorder and reduce any symptoms.
At re-origin, we believe that chronic fatigue appears when the limbic system becomes overactive as a stress response due to triggering elements associated with ME/CFS and stays in “emergency mode”. We also believe that the symptoms brought on by CFS are temporary and can be reversed thanks to neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change and develop new neural pathways. Using specific neurocognitive exercises, it is possible to retrain your brain out of “emergency mode” and back to a place of safety and balance where well-being can naturally resume