Science Questions

How do I know if I have chronic fatigue syndrome?

Tue, 15th May 2012

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Question

Katherine Hiscox asked:

My doctor doesn't believe in chronic fatigue syndrome, but I'm often tired. How do I know if I have chronic fatigue syndrome, or if I'm just tired?

Answer

Yes, I think doctors not believing in this illness is still very common which I find surprising actually, given the evidence, given that the Chief Medical Officer a long time ago said it was a real illness and needs to be taken seriously and has given national guidance on what to do about this.  

But even so, we know that only 52 % of GPs feel confident to making a diagnosis and I think we still need to do a lot of awareness raising.  

If you're feeling tired, what should you do?  Well, first of all remember, its only tiredness that actually stops you doing stuff.  So, most of us, if were doing a lot of things are going to feel tired so this is tiredness that is really awful and will stop you going to work, going to school, doing socialising, or doing sport.  If you think you might have chronic fatigue syndrome, then the national guidance is that you should have a range of screening blood to exclude other illnesses such as leukaemia or thyroid disease.  You should go and see a doctor to exclude other causes such as depression, and so on.  And if all of those other illnesses are rules out and you fit the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome then you've probably got chronic fatigue syndrome.

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