Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Symptoms

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What are systemic exertion intolerance disease or chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms and signs?

The symptoms and signs of CFS/SEID are complex but specific. The patient must have severe chronic fatigue of six months or longer duration with other known medical conditions excluded by clinical diagnosis. In addition, the patients have four or more of the following symptoms that either occurred at the same time or after the severe chronic fatigue. The symptoms are substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multi-joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity; unrefreshing sleep; and post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours. Patients may often have additional symptoms such as double vision, mild fevers, earaches, diarrhea, and many other symptoms, but they do not fit into the criteria that are considered to be part of the definition of CFS.

The following are five main symptoms that the new IOM considers key for SEID or CFS:

  • Reduction or impairment in ability to carry out normal daily activities, accompanied by profound fatigue
  • Post-exertional malaise (worsening of symptoms after physical, cognitive, or emotional effort)
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Orthostatic intolerance (symptoms that worsen when a person stands upright and improve when the person lies back down)
Return to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Female (Patient) Published: October 19

I was diagnosed in the second grade after being sick with flu like symptoms and severe fatigue for a long period of time. In the years since I have continued to deal with bouts of extreme fatigue that usually results in severe nausea and debilitating fatigue along with other symptoms such as headaches, memory problems, leg pain, sore throat etc. I am 29 now and in times of stress or if I "overdo it" I end up vomiting and I am incapacitated for several days- sometimes so ill I have to get iv fluids. I wish that I didn't have to deal with this alone- I don't currently see a dr. that knows anything about the illness.

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Comment from: Tiredtodeath, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 18

My symptoms are vertigo, extreme fatigue, being unable to breath lying down unless I sit up for a few hours to get enough energy, feeling like I'm dying, leg weakness, nausea, burning between toes without obvious cause, memory blackouts, confusion, loss of memory and unable to remember names for things or what I was doing. I have enlarged spleen (affects lymphatic system), insomnia and erratic interrupted sleep. Ten sleeping pills kept me awake all night, on other nights 1 pill helps with sleep after an hour or 2 or 3. I have 5 to 6 hours of sleep/night on average with 5 to 6 hours lying awake trying to get to sleep. Only L-theanine helps with mental functioning/memory. I have tinnitus and recurring skin infection. CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) came after 3 months of skin infection and pneumonia. I have abnormal low neutrophils/monocytes, white blood cell counts which dropped 50% after infection, low RBC on one occasion, sudden increases in fatigue for 2 or 3 hours, unable to recover energy after 2 to 3 days of extra sleep, anxiety and depression.

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