Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may occur suddenly after you have a cold, bronchitis, hepatitis, or an intestinal infection. Symptoms may follow a bout of infectious mononucleosis, which is caused by a virus that temporarily saps your energy. CFS can also begin after a period of high stress. Sometimes it develops more gradually, with no clear illness or other event noted as a starting point.
Unlike flu symptoms that usually go away in a few days or weeks, symptoms of CFS persist or recur in cycles for at least 6 months in at least 50% of the time. CFS symptoms vary from person to person. The guidelines for diagnosing CFS include, in addition to a 6-month history of fatigue that is not relieved with bed rest, at least 4 of the following 8 symptoms:
In addition to the eight diagnostic symptoms, patients with CFS can also suffer from:
Chronic fatigue syndrome: causes & risk factors. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/causes-risk-factors.html. Updated May 2017. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/symptoms/index.html. Updated May 14, 2012. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Chronic fatigue syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115094/Chronic-fatigue-syndrome. Updated February 10, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2017.
Devanur LD, Kerr JR. Chronic fatigue syndrome. J Clin Virol. 2006;37(3):139-150.
Prins JB, van der Meer JW, Bleijenberg G. Chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet. 2006;367(9507):346-355.
Last reviewed May 2017 by James P. Cornell, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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