Taking an honest inventory of things that might be responsible for your fatigue is often the first step toward relief. Fatigue may be related to one of the factors below. If none of these pertain, consult with a healthcare provider.
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Excess physical activity
- Jet lag disorder
- Lack of physical activity
- Lack of sleep
- Medications, such as antihistamines, cough medicines
- Unhealthy eating habits
Symptoms often mimic the flu. Below are the most common symptoms.
- Sensitivity to light
- Tender lymph nodes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle and joint pain
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Low-grade fever
Chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis requires ruling out other possible conditions. According to the Institute of Medicine, a CFS diagnosis requires all 3 of the following symptoms:
- Having to cut back significantly on activities you did before the illness
- Severe tiredness after physical activity
- Sleep that doesn’t refresh you
In addition, one of the following symptoms must be present:
- Difficulty thinking
- Orthostatic intolerance: This means standing upright makes symptoms worse. Lying back down or elevating your feet may ease the symptoms but does not fully get rid of them.
There is no cure for CFS. Treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms and may include medications, light aerobic exercise, dietary supplements and/or psychotherapy.
When to see your Doctor
If your fatigue has persisted for two or more weeks despite making an effort to rest, reduce stress, choose a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids, it’s time to see a doctor. Dealing with severe fatigue can be very challenging. It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to find treatments that help you.