Symptoms and Signs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/19/2022

Doctor's Notes on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition characterized by pronounced fatigue for at least 6 months in the absence of known medical causes along with other characteristic symptoms. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends the name systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) for this disease.  

The cause of CFS is poorly understood. Some researchers believe that the condition is an endpoint for many different disease processes such as viral infections, toxin exposure, and stress

Associated symptoms and signs in addition to fatigue include poor concentration, memory problems, sore throat, muscle pain, tender lymph nodes, malaise, headache, and poor sleep quality. Other symptoms can include mild feverearachediarrheadizzinessdepression, mood changes, chills, vision disturbances, and food sensitivities.

What Is the Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

There is no cure or single recommended therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome, and treatments are directed toward managing symptoms. As such, treatments vary from person to person. Not all treatments are appropriate for every affected person. Treatments may include:

  • Medications to control pain
  • Medications to promote healthy sleep
  • Antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications
  • Massage or stretching therapy
  • Activity and energy management
  • Heat application
  • Deep breathing and relaxation therapies
  • Nutritional support including counseling and supplements as needed

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.