Do I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

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I’m Fatigued Do I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

Probably not!  Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms people visit doctors for. Most do not have chronic fatigue syndrome. Everyday fatigue can be caused by many factors including:

woman lying on floor

Fatigue is common. Just because you’re experiencing it doesn’t mean that you have ME/CFS.

  • Poor Sleep: Even a hour less sleep a night than you usually get – or fitful sleep – can result in fatigue.
  • Stress: Stress that keeps you from being able to relax (or sleep) can over time result in fatigue.
  • Inactivity: Inactivity can have profoundly negative effects on the body. Inactivity caused fatigue can be remedied with short and regular periods of exercise (30 minutes or longer four to five times a week).  Exercise has been shown to decrease stress, improve mood and energy.
  • Too much exercise – overtraining causes symptoms similar to ME/CFS
  • Poor Diet: A diet larded with sugar, carbohydrates and fat can cause substantial fatigue.
  • Medications: Many medications, including anti-histamines, beta-blockers, opioids and others can cause fatigue.

I Get Decent Sleep and Exercise and I Eat Well But I’m Still Exhausted…. Do I Have ME/CFS?

Not necessarily, but you should see a doctor if this has gone on for awhile. The Mayo Clinic states that people experiencing sudden or persistent fatigue after getting adequate rest for several weeks may have an underlying medical condition.

Other Diseases and Disorders That Cause Fatigue

A Centers For Disease Control study indicated that a large percentage of people who were fatigued and/or felt unwell had an underlying disorder that could usually be treated. The study indicated that the most frequent cause of fatigue is thyroid disease, followed by anemia, diabetes, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, heart disease, substance abuse, melancholic depression and anxiety. Other possibilities include restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea and cancer.

The good news is that most of these diseases are easily diagnosed by routine blood tests and many can be treated successfully.

If I Don’t Have Any of  These Disorders Do I Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

It’s possible. First, though, go over the list at the top to see if you’ve been sleeping poorly recently, been under a lot of stress, if you’ve been very inactive lately, (or if you’re an athlete if you may be overtraining), if your diet has worsened, or if you’ve recently been put on a new medication (or might be having a reaction to an old one. )

The fatigue, it should be noted, in ME/CFS is often immense, and is always accompanied by something called post-exertional malaise or PEM. PEM refers to a dramatic worsening of symptoms after exertion that sometimes takes a day or two to appear.

Only a physician can diagnose you with ME/CFS. In the meantime learn more about the symptoms found in ME/CFS, and check out the CDC’s page on ME/CFS.

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Prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome in metropolitan, urban, and rural Georgia W. Reeves, J. Jones, E. Maloney, C. Heim, D. Hoaglin, R. Boneva, M. Morrisey, R. Devlin. 2007 Population Health Metrics 5: 5

Office For Research Into Women’s Health, NIH. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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