Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

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Chronic fatigue syndrome is an unfortunate condition afflicts millions of people around the world, and while the small percentage in terms of the global population often leaves this disease below the radar, it can significantly affect the lives of those who suffer from it.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition where fatigue, that may be extremely common in a variety of other conditions, can’t be explained by a medical condition and does not show recovery with rest. CFS is also called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).



Unfortunately, there is no clear cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, although experts believe that it can be a result of genetic, environmental, infectious, biologic, and psychological factors. That may seem like a wide range of possibilities, so most people treat the symptoms rather than whatever may be causing the condition.


As the name implies, severe fatigue and exhaustion are the major symptoms of this condition, but there are also other signs and symptoms, some of which are a secondary symptom or an effect of the exhaustion in the body and mind. The most common symptoms are outlined below:

  • Ongoing exhaustion after physical exertion
  • Unsatisfying, restless, or perpetually disturbed sleep
  • Unusually severe headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Cognitive exhaustion or confusion
  • Chills and night sweats
  • Severe psychological disturbances
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
  • Digestive issues
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory distress


Someone is diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome if they experience the symptoms of the condition for more than 6 months. When diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome, it is important to rule out any other medical conditions that may be causing similar symptoms, such as:

  • Morbid obesity
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Other pathogenic illness from bacteria, fungi, or viruses
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