Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) symptoms usually start suddenly. But for some people, they develop gradually over weeks or months. Symptoms can change in a day, and from day to day. They tend to stop (remission) and then start again (relapse).
There is broad range of CFS symptoms. But there is a core set of symptoms that affect nearly everyone with CFS. These core symptoms are:
- Extreme physical fatigue, mental fatigue, or both. It can be constant, or it can come and go. It is not relieved by rest. This fatigue also is so severe that it interferes with your work, your play, and your social activities.
- Feeling unwell after being active. This can mean you feel ill or weak or your CFS symptoms are worse. There can be a delay before it starts. It can take more than 24 hours to feel better.
- Sleep problems.
- Pain, which can be widespread or in one place. CFS pain can be in one area, then move to another. You may have:
A person with CFS also has two or more of these symptoms:
- Problems with concentration, short-term memory, or thinking of the right word
- Being very sensitive to light, noise, or emotions
- Confusion, slow thinking, or feeling disoriented
- Muscle weakness or muscle coordination problems
CFS also causes the following symptoms. Different people with CFS have different combinations of:
- Lightheadedness and dizziness, very fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath when active.
- Urinating often, nausea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Low body temperature, cold hands and feet, sweating, or trouble with heat or cold.
- Feeling worse when under stress.
- Weight change or appetite change.
Having depression along with CFS is common and can make CFS symptoms worse.
CFS causes symptoms that are the same as many other diseases, especially early on. For this reason, it can be diagnosed only after a thorough evaluation has ruled out other conditions with similar symptoms.