What Ever Happened to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Could You Have CFS?
It's only 3 p.m. but you're so tired that you feel as though you could lie down now and sleep until tomorrow afternoon. Don't panic: Even exhaustion that extreme isn't necessarily a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome. "For most people, fatigue is due to stress, overwork, or lack of exercise or sleep," says Anthony Komaroff, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a CFS researcher. "Just 2 to 5 percent of people who seek medical care because of feeling tired actually have chronic fatigue syndrome." How can you tell the difference? Answering the following questions may yield important clues.
- Have you been feeling profoundly tired for more than four weeks?
- Have you tried everything you normally do to help yourself -- such as getting a good night's sleep, cutting back on stress, or taking a vacation -- but still feel exhausted?
- Do you feel sluggish and drained in the morning, even if you've gotten a full night's sleep?
- Has fatigue forced you to make major adjustments in your life -- like cutting back on your work hours or cancelling plans with friends?
- After you work out, do you feel worse than before?
- Did you have a sore throat, flu, or other illness before the severe fatigue hit?
- Do you suffer from headaches or muscle or joint pain?
If you've answered yes to question 1 and at least four of questions 2 through 7, see your doctor. You may have chronic fatigue syndrome or another condition that requires medical attention.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, September 2011.