Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

by Stephanie Brail

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is more than just fatigue. To be fully diagnosed with CFS, a patient must exhibit symptoms that extend beyond just chronic tiredness.

While it's still uncertain whether chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are two manifestations of the same illness, many of the symptoms listed below are common to both.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

To follow are the main symptoms of CFS. These must be present for at least six months for a diagnosis. They usually apply to fibromyalgia patients as well:

  • Fatigue (that is not explained by another physical problem)
  • Insomnia/unrefreshing sleep
  • Memory problems and poor concentration, also known as "brain fog"
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat and other flu-like symptoms
  • Post-exertional malaise following exercise or other exertion

Other symptoms include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chest pain
  • Heart problems (irregular heart beat, heart flutter)
  • Dizziness
  • Allergies
  • Low-grade fever
  • Weight gain
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Irritability
  • Depression/anxiety

Special Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia patients may experience all of the above, but the defining aspect of fibromyalgia is the pain, which may not be present in chronic fatigue syndrome. Specifically:

  • The pain must appear in all four quadrants of the patient's body for at least three months.
  • Tenderness or pain will be felt when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 points on the body.
  • The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp shooting pain. It may also be accompanied by numbness, tingling, or muscle twitching.

Logging Symptoms

Keeping a log of daily symptoms can help when visiting a doctor for a diagnosis. This can also help pinpoint stressors or other factors that might be exacerbating the symptoms.

References:

(2007). CFS: Diagnostic Symptoms. Retrieved August 12, 2007, from Centers for Disease Control Web site:
http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/cfssymptomsHCP.htm

(2007). Symptoms. Retrieved August 12, 2007, from CFIDS Association of America Web site: http://cfids.org/about-cfids/symptoms.asp

(2007). Fibromyalgia. Retrieved August 12, 2007, from National Fibromyalgia Association Web site:
http://www.fmaware.org/site/PageServer?pagename=fibromyalgia