Chronic fatigue syndrome is a flu-like condition that can drain your energy and, sometimes, last for years. People previously healthy and full of energy may experience a variety of signs and symptoms.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome exhibit signs and symptoms similar to those of most common viral infections. Unlike flu (influenza) symptoms, which usually subside in a few days or weeks, the signs and symptoms of CFS can last much longer. They may come and go frequently with no identifiable pattern.
Primary signs and symptoms
In addition to persistent fatigue, not caused by other known medical conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome has eight possible primary signs and symptoms. Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms include:
Loss of memory or concentration
Painful and mildly enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
Unexplained muscle soreness
Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
According to the International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study Group â€” a group of scientists, researchers and doctors brought together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine a standard method for defining and diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome â€” a person meets the diagnostic criteria of chronic fatigue syndrome when unexplained persistent fatigue occurs for six months or more along with at least four of the eight primary signs and symptoms.
Additional signs and symptoms
In addition, people with chronic fatigue syndrome have reported other various signs and symptoms that aren't part of the official definition. These include:
Allergies or sensitivities to foods, alcohol, odors, chemicals, medications or noise
Dizziness, balance problems or fainting
Chills and night sweats
Psychological problems, such as depression, irritability, anxiety disorders and panic attacks
Shortness of breath
Visual disturbances, such as blurring, sensitivity to light, eye pain and dry eyes
Weight loss or gain
If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, your symptoms may peak and become stable early on, and then come and go over time. Some people go on to recover completely, while others grow progressively worse.