7 Signs You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Isadora Baum, CHC

If you feel an overwhelming sense of fatigue, it may be something to address, especially if you've been sleeping normally. So, if sleep isn't doing enough for you, and you notice some of these symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, you may want to see a doctor immediately to get a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately, getting a diagnosis can be challenging because the symptoms of chronic fatigue are similar to many other illnesses.

"Chronic fatigue often starts suddenly, with flu-like symptoms. But unlike the flu, it can last a lifetime," Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., best-selling author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, tells Bustle. "We still know very little about chronic fatigue, and sadly, the cause is still unknown. While researchers continue to search for the root cause of CFS, there are preliminary findings that hormonal imbalances, poor immune system response, viral infections, chronic low blood pressure and nutritional deficiency are contributing factors." Although chronic fatigue is hard to peg down, knowing the signs can be a bit of extra help in determining if it's worth getting a second opinion. And if you do wind up getting a diagnosis, you and your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for you. Here are seven signs experts say might mean you have chronic fatigue syndrome.


Extreme Fatigue After Exercise

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It's normal to feel a bit tired after exercise, but take note if this tired feeling lasts longer than expected. "Fatigue and extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical exercise," is a sign you may have CFS, physical therapist Dr. Karena Wu, owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy tells Bustle. "The body repairs itself and regenerates when you stop doing exercise ... especially overnight as you sleep." And if sleep hasn't cut it to make you feel restored post-work out, it may be a good time to consult your doctor, Wu says.


Lack Of Memory & Focus

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Loss in concentration and memory could be a sign of CFS. "Significant loss of concentration and short-term memory is not a normal occurrence and should raise questions regarding how your system is functioning," says Wu. Because energy is needed to help the brain concentrate and create memories, and those struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome often feel depleted of energy, it may result in more frequent difficulties focusing and remembering things throughout the day, says Wu.


Muscle & Joint Pain

If you are feeling muscle and joint pain, and you're not sure why, take note. "We all do things in our daily routine that can yield muscle aches or pains but when you do not have an explanation for it, you should be wondering why," says Wu. "If you are waking up or feeling these [pains] without any known cause or too frequently," it may be chronic fatigue, says Wu says.


Getting Sick Too Often

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If you're constantly feeling sick and run down, it could be a sign of chronic fatigue. "Frequently getting sick, such as having a sore throat, cold or flu-like symptoms," is a red flag, says Axe. Keep in mind, though, that getting sick often doesn't always spell out chronic fatigue, and may mean something else. Seeing your doctor is the only way to get a possible concrete diagnosis.


Digestive Distress

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If you are experiencing digestive issues, this could be due to chronic fatigue syndrome. "Digestive problems like constipation or cramping," are common signs of chronic fatigue, says Axe. Irritable bowel syndrome may also be an indicator of chronic fatigue syndrome, says Axe, but take into account that having digestive issues does not necessarily mean you also have chronic fatigue syndrome.


Fluctuating Body Temperature

Hot one moment and then freezing the next? It could be sign of chronic fatigue. Abnormal fluctuations in body temperature are sometimes associated with CFS. For instance, you might have chills in the day but then experience night flashes when in bed, says Axe. Like most symptoms of chronic fatigue though, changes in body temperature may be related to other illnesses. Seeing your doctor is the best way to find out what the issue may be.



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If your head is pounding for no reason, it could be related to chronic fatigue. Sure, there are many different causes behind a headache. Again due to the impaired neural pathway and in tandem with the weakened memory and focus, headaches and migraines can also be common in messing with your brain and attention span, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwell Health and attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital tells Bustle.

If you've been feeling run down or have been experiencing irregular changes with your body, it could mean you have chronic fatigue. If you are concerned this may be the case, make a doctor appointment to discuss next steps.