Skip to Content
Looking to save on your medications?  Find out how 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Exhausted woman on bed

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder characterized by persistent fatigue that has lasted for at least six months. This fatigue is so severe that it gets in the way of normal daily activities and is not improved by rest or sleep. Any kind of physical activity or exertion leads to extreme exhaustion (a condition known as post-exertional malaise).

CFS may also be called systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). It may be abbreviated as ME/CFS.

What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?

Experts are not sure why some people get CFS and others don’t but suggest some people have a genetic predisposition to the disorder which is possibly triggered by a viral infection (such as the Epstein-Barr virus or human herpesvirus 6), immune system problem, extreme stress, hormonal imbalance, or another event; however, no conclusive link has ever been found.

What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?

The symptoms of CFS may vary from person to person but can include:

  • Persistent fatigue that is not relieved by rest
  • Exhaustion lasting for more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
  • Headaches
  • Memory Loss
  • Poor concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain

How is chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosed?

If you have persistent or excessive fatigue, see your doctor. They will perform a physical examination and possibly some blood tests or other examinations to see if there is an underlying reason for your fatigue.

There's no single test to confirm the diagnosis of CFS and the diagnosis relies on ruling out other conditions that may cause fatigue, such as infections, heart disease, or psychological disorders.

How is chronic fatigue syndrome treated?

There is no cure for CFS; however, the following treatments may be considered to help relieve symptoms:

  • Sleeping medications
  • Stimulants
  • Analgesics
  • Antidepressants
  • Other medications