Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Chronic fatigue syndrome or Myalgic encephalomyelitis is condition in which the person has been experiencing debilitating fatigue for a period of six months or more. But the fatigue can not only be deemed as definitive symptom to diagnose a person of having chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


Here in this article we shall try to provide you as much information as we can about the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome so you can try to understand this illness better and seek the proper help in case you need.


Chronic fatigue syndrome physically weakens the person suffering from it. But fatigue can be for many reasons. These reasons may be you not getting the proper sleep your body needs. Distress of sleep not only makes you physically but mentally fatigued as well.


Another cause of consistent fatigue could be physical exertion more than your body can handle. Your work may be putting you under so much physical exertion that you may have gotten used to it by now but it is slowly wearing your body down.


You may have been traveling a lot in the past 6 months that it might have gone unnoticed by you but unconsciously your body was put under a lot of physical stress of traveling. Thus all these given reasons nullifies your assumption of you might be having chronic fatigue syndrome. This makes this illness much more complex and difficult to diagnose.




The Centre for Disease and Prevention, therefore, established a criterion for diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Under the light of this syndrome, a patent must be having at least four of the following symptoms along with fatigue for last six months. The established symptoms are;


  • Post-exertional malaise
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Impaired memory
  • Lack of ability to concentrate
  • Muscular pain
  • Polyarthralgia
  • Sore throat
  • Tender lymph nodes





Post-exertional malaise (PEM) is one of the main debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Post-exertional malaise is the term used for worsening of symptoms following a minor physical or mental exertion. The symptoms worsen over the period that last for hours to lasting for days or even weeks after the activity.


Each activity or exercise for the people with chronic fatigue syndrome must be planned with care keeping in view the patient’s limit to exert and after consulting with the patient. (1)




The chronic fatigue syndrome patients mostly suffer from sleep distress. This could be taken as a consequence of an undiagnosed sleep disorder or any coexisting fibromyalgia. But researches have shown that this sleep distress in chronic fatigue syndrome patients is not a consequence of either of above mentioned reasons.


Instead, this sleep distress is an attribute of lack of long periods of undisturbed sleep which results in more sleepiness in the morning than at night. But due to social limits the patient is unable to catch up on this loss of sleep leading to overwhelming fatigue. (2)




Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have often reported the problem of retaining memory. When researchers investigated this feature of the illness they found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome find it difficult to perform on the cognitive test as compared to individuals without chronic fatigue syndrome.


Researchers who further investigated upon the underlying cause of this impaired memory and found that this may be due to other co-existing conditions like depression.(3)




Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have reduced attention capacity. These symptoms are very common and can be very frightening. Many people are alarmed by their poor ability to remember things and there can be a fear that this is a sign of some form of dementia. However, the underlying problem is a lack of energy, leading to difficulties with concentration and lack of energy. (4)


According to some studies this lack of concentration can also be due to brain dysfunction. (5)




Polyarthralgia is arthritic pain. Polyarthralgia is polyarthritis which causes inflammation of the joints. It can have several causes which may include injuries and fractures. Any infection caused by a virus. Some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis may also be the cause of tis painful condition. (6)




Muscular and joint pain is one of the telltale signs of chronic fatigue syndrome and also the reason which makes this illness more gruesome for the patients. This pain maybe due to variety of causes but most logical and scientifically supported cause id found to be muscle dysfunction. Evidence based studies have shown that this muscular pain can be attributed to impaired mitochondrial function and reduced heat shock protein production in many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. (7)




A chronic sore throat is a commonly reported symptom in the patients suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome. It comes with a combination of flu like symptoms. CSF in most patients starts with an infection, viral or bacterial, usually viral. (8)




In most cases swollen glands are associated with getting sick like in flu or common cold. Swollen lymph nodes or Lymphadenopathy is usually a sign of infection and is quite common in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematous, rheumatoid arthritis, and sarcoidosis.


But it has also its evidence in CFS as well. Swollen lymph nodes are very painful in general but people suffering from chronic fatigue in particular feel more pain in these swollen nodes which is useful diagnostic scale for CFS. (9)




Headaches and migraines are very common in people with fibromyalgia which is in fact another symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome. But headaches of new severity and patterns are one of the diagnostic characters for CFS. (10)


If you find yourself with any 4 of the above mentioned symptoms with general lack of motivation and energy to get up and achieve your predetermined goals in daily life. Then you should immediately seek consultation from your general physician.    























 1.         Jason LA, Evans M, So S, Scott J, Brown A. Problems in Defining Post-Exertional Malaise. J Prev Interv Community. 2015; 43(1):20–31.

2.         Togo F, Natelson BH, Cherniack NS, FitzGibbons J, Garcon C, Rapoport DM. Sleep structure and sleepiness in chronic fatigue syndrome with or without coexisting fibromyalgia. Arthritis Res Ther. 2008 May 13; 10(3):R56.

3.         Shanks L, Jason LA, Evans M, Brown A. Cognitive impairments associated with CFS and POTS. Front Physiol [Internet]. 2013 May 16 [cited 2020 Jun 22]; 4. Available from:

4.         Memory and Concentration Booklet May 2017.pdf [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Jun 22]. Available from:

5.         Natelson BH. Brain dysfunction as one cause of CFS symptoms including difficulty with attention and concentration. Front Physiol [Internet]. 2013 May 20 [cited 2020 Jun 22]; 4. Available from:

6.         Yancey JR, Thomas SM. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am FAM Physician. 2012 Oct 15; 86(8):741–6.

7.         Gerwyn M, Maes M. Mechanisms Explaining Muscle Fatigue and Muscle Pain in Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): a Review of Recent Findings. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2017 Jan; 19(1):1.

8.         Nose and throat inflammation | ME Research UK [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Jun 22]. Available from:

9.         Swollen Glands with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [Internet]. Very well Health. [Cited 2020 Jun 22]. Available from:

10.         Ravindran MK, Zheng Y, Timbol C, Merck SJ, Baraniuk JN. Migraine headaches in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Comparison of two prospective cross-sectional studies. BMC Neurol. 2011 Mar 5; 11:30.



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