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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

The Monster List!

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Updated April 08, 2014

Many lists of chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms only contain a few symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle pain and exercise intolerance. However, this condition involves a lot more potential symptoms that can impact just about any part of the body.

Knowing all of the possible symptoms can help you in a few different ways:

  1. It can help your doctor diagnose you properly;
  2. Tracking them can help you identify symptom triggers;
  3. It can help you see that you're not the only one experiencing these problems.

Some of the items in the list are noted as overlapping conditions, which means they're common enough to be considered symptomatic of chronic fatigue syndrome but are actually separate conditions that need to be diagnosed and treated in their own right.

Some people with this illness have symptoms that come and go and to vary greatly in severity from day to day or week to week. Others may have constant symptoms with very little change over time.

Symptoms with an asterisk are included in the CDC diagnostic criteria.

Sleep & Energy-Related Symptoms

  • Incapacitating fatigue*
  • Post-exertional malaise* (extreme fatigue after exercise, lasting 24 hours or more)
  • Poor stamina
  • Unrefreshing sleep*

Flu-Like Symptoms

  • Pain in joints without swelling or redness* (can be constant or move between joints)
  • Muscle aches* and/or weakness
  • Sore throat*
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity*
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Chronic cough
  • Nausea
  • Recurrent flu-like illness

Other Pain/Sensation-Related Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

  • Morning stiffness
  • Earache
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as an overlapping condition (abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, bloating)
  • Numbness
  • Tingling and/or burning sensations in the face or extremities (paresthesia)
  • Chest pains (Always treat chest pain as a serious condition warranting immediate medical care.)
  • Jaw pain (possibly TMJ, as an overlapping condition)

Cognitive Symptoms (Brain Fog)

  • Short-term memory or concentration problems*
  • Word-finding difficulties/impaired speech (dysphasia)
  • Inability to comprehend or retain what is read
  • Inability to calculate numbers
  • Impaired reasoning
  • Spacial disorientation
  • Mental fogginess

Learn more: Brain Fog in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Psychological Symptoms

Note: While these symptoms are generally considered psychological, they do not indicate that chronic fatigue syndrome is a psychological condition, and some or all of these symptoms may be caused by physiological abnormalities.
  • Depression, as an overlapping condition
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Personality changes
  • Mood swings

Sensitivities & Intolerances

Cardio & Respiratory Symptoms

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Neurally mediated hypotension (dizziness & balance problems upon standing)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent, hard to treat respiratory infections

Learn more: Cardiac Symptoms in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

General Symptoms

  • Low-grade fever or low body temperature
  • Visual disturbances (blurring, light sensitivity, eye pain, worsening vision, dry eyes)
  • Chills & night sweats
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dry mouth & eyes (called sicca syndrome)
  • Rashes
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), as an overlapping condition
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Recurrent infections
  • Frequent canker sores
  • History of herpes simplex or shingles
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), as an overlapping condition
  • Endometriosis, as an overlapping condition

Sources:

2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Symptoms".

2006 The CFIDS Association of America, Inc. All rights reserved. "Symptoms".

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