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Oak Hill Hospital
Oak Hill | Pediatric Emergency Care Center

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may occur suddenly after you have a cold, bronchitis, hepatitis, or an intestinal infection. Symptoms may follow a bout of infectious mononucleosis, which is caused by a virus that temporarily saps your energy. CFS can also begin after a period of high stress. Sometimes it develops more gradually, with no clear illness or other event noted as a starting point.

Unlike flu symptoms that usually go away in a few days or weeks, symptoms of CFS persist or recur in cycles for at least 6 months in 50% of time. CFS symptoms vary from person to person. The guidelines for diagnosing CFS include, in addition to a 6-month history of fatigue that is not relieved with bed rest, at least 4 of the following 8 symptoms:

  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain without swelling or redness
  • Headaches
  • Trouble with short-tern memory or concentration, forgetfulness, or confusion
  • Sore throat
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Trouble sleeping or not feeling rested after sleep
  • Worsening symptoms 24 hours or more after exercise

In addition to the eight diagnostic symptoms, patients with CFS can also suffer from:

Revision Information

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. American Academy of Family Physicians Familydoctor website. Available at: Updated November 2010. Accessed December 28, 2012.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated May 16, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 10, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.

  • Devanur LD, Kerr JR. Chronic fatigue syndrome. J Clin Virol. 2006;37(3):139-150.

  • Prins JB, van der Meer JW, Bleijenberg G. Chronic fatigue syndrome. Lancet. 2006;367(9507):346-355.