Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Home > Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What Are the Symptoms?

A great deal of debate has surrounded the issue of how best to define chronic fatigue syndrome. In order to receive a CFS diagnosis, a person must satisfy two criteria: He or she must have severe chronic fatigue of six months or longer that is not caused by another medical condition and must have four or more of the following symptoms:
  • 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 (insomnia)
  • Post-exercise fatigue lasting more than 24 hours.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed only when other possible causes are ruled out and only if fatigue has lasted for more than six months.
(Click Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms for more information.)

Who Gets Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

It is estimated that as many as half a million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome. In the early 1980s, chronic fatigue syndrome was first called the "yuppie flu" because mostly well-educated women with high incomes in their 30s and 40s sought help for chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. However, it is now known that chronic fatigue syndrome affects people of all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, and economic situations. Chronic fatigue syndrome is not just an American illness -- people all over the world are affected by CFS.
Although more women than men are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, it is not known for sure that CFS affects more women than men. Researchers believe that women may be more likely than men to talk to their doctors about symptoms like exhaustion and pain.
(Click Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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