Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
CFS can be hard to diagnose. It may take some time. This can feel frustrating but you can work to relieve symptoms while you are waiting.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms. You will also be asked about your family and health past. There are no standard tests for CFS. However, tests may be done to rule out other issues. People with CFS often have normal physical exams and test results.
If you have symptoms but tests are normal, the doctor may begin to suspect CFS. The Institute of Medicine has a list of criteria to diagnose CFS. All 3 of the following symptoms must be present:
In addition, 1 or both of the following must also be present:
Testing is done based on your medical history, physical exam, and symptoms. Not everyone will have all tests. Tests may include:
Blood and Urine Tests
Blood tests may be done to check:
Urine tests can help to find infections or changes in the kidneys.
Other tests may include imaging tests or a .
Psychological and Neurological Tests
The doctor may want to test mental skills. You may have tests for concentration, memory, and organization. A personality assessment can help to determine your coping abilities. It is also done to identify any mental health issues that may also be present. These may include: .
Chronic fatigue syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 30, 2018. Accessed May 4, 2018.
Chronic fatigue syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/chronic-fatigue-syndrome. Updated October 2016. Accessed May 4, 2018.
Committee on the Diagnostic Criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Board on the Health of Select Populations, Institute of Medicine. Beyond myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: redefining an illness. Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Feb 10. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK274235.
Diagnosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/symptoms-diagnosis/diagnosis.html. Updated July 4, 2017. Accessed May 4, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 5/4/2018
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