Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

How do I know if I might have chronic fatigue syndrome?

If you answer yes to any of the questions listed below, you may have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also called chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).
  1. Have you been tired (fatigued) for a long time--more than 6 months--even though you are getting enough rest and are not working too hard?
  2. Has your doctor been unable to find illnesses that could explain your symptoms?
  3. Are you able to do less than half of what you used to do because you feel tired?
  4. Have you had problems that keep coming back or don't go away for 6 months or more with 4 or more of the following signs and symptoms listed below?
  5. Sore throat
  6. Tender or painful lymph nodes in neck or armpits
  7. Unexplained muscle soreness
  8. Pain that moves from joint to joint but doesn't include redness or swelling
  9. Headaches that are different from the kind you usually get, or headaches that make your whole head hurt
  10. Trouble with short-term memory or concentration
  11. Feeling very tired for more than 24 hours after exercise that didn't bother you before
  12. Trouble sleeping
People with CFS may have other symptoms as well.

What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?

No one is certain about what causes CFS. The symptoms may be caused by an immune system that isn't working well. Or they may be caused by some kind of virus. Researchers are looking for the cause of CFS.

How is chronic fatigue syndrome treated?

The first step is to see if there is a medical cause for your fatigue. Your doctor will probably want to review your symptoms and medical history, and give you a physical exam. Your doctor may also want to do some blood tests, but lab testing is not often helpful. Some of the symptoms, such as muscle aches, sleep problems, anxiety and depression, can be treated with medicine. The medicine can only reduce your symptoms and allow you to be more active, not cure the fatigue. So far, there is no medicine that cures the entire syndrome. Most symptoms improve with time.

How can I help myself?

How can my doctor help?

Your doctor can work with you to provide symptom relief and to help you find ways of coping with the way CFS changes your life. Chronic fatigue affects you physically, emotionally and socially. When you address all of these factors, you have the best chance of adjusting to your illness and feeling more satisfied with your life. If you have CFS, a good long-term relationship with your doctor helps. This relationship is the key that can help you feel less frustrated.


Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America: www.cfids.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Infectious Diseases : http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cfs/index.htm