fatigue syndrome (CFS), sometimes called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a condition that makes you feel so
tired that you can't do all of your normal, daily activities. There are other
symptoms too, but being very tired is the main
one. Some people have severe fatigue and other symptoms for
CFS is not well understood. Most experts now
believe that it is a separate illness with its own set of symptoms. But some
doctors don't believe this.
There are no tests for CFS. Because
of this, many people have trouble accepting their disease or getting their
friends and family to do so. Having people who believe your diagnosis and
support you is very important. Having a doctor you can trust is critical.
Your tiredness is real. It's not "in your head." It is your
body's reaction to a mix of factors.
Doctors don't know what causes
CFS. Sometimes it begins after a viral infection, but there is no proof
of any connection. It's likely that a number of factors or triggers come
together to cause CFS.
Extreme tiredness, or
fatigue, is the main symptom. If you have CFS:
- You may feel exhausted all or much of the
- You may have problems sleeping. Or you may wake up feeling
tired or not rested.
- It may be harder for you to think clearly, to
concentrate, and to remember things.
- You may also have headaches,
muscle and joint pain, a sore throat, and tender glands in your neck or
- Your symptoms may flare up after a mental or physical
activity that used to be no problem for you. You may feel drained or exhausted.
Depression is common with CFS, and it can make your other
There are no tests for CFS.
Doctors can diagnose it only by ruling out other possible causes of your
fatigue. Many other health problems can cause fatigue. Most people with
fatigue have something other than chronic fatigue syndrome.
There is no treatment for CFS
itself, but many of its symptoms can be treated. A good relationship with your
doctor is important. That's because the two of you will need to work together to find
a combination of medicines and behavior changes that will help you get better.
Some trial and error may be needed, because no single combination of
treatments works for everyone.
Home treatment is very important.
You may need to change your daily schedule, learn better sleep habits, and
use regular gentle movement or exercise to fight fatigue. Even at times when you have more energy, keep a low-key pace throughout each day. Rest often.
Living with CFS can be as much a mental health challenge as it is a physical one. Take steps to avoid getting caught
in a cycle of frustration, anger, and depression. Learning to cope with your
symptoms and talking to others who have CFS can help. So can working with a counselor.