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Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes extreme tiredness that does not go away after you rest. Because the fatigue is long-lasting, CFS makes it hard to keep up with normal daily activities. CFS symptoms can include:
- Fatigue lasting six months or longer
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Sore throat
- Tender or painful areas in your neck or armpits
- Muscle and joint pain
- Headache that is different from what you have had before
- Not feeling refreshed after sleeping
- Feeling very tired for more than 24 hours after being physically active
CFS occurs most commonly in women in their 40s and 50s. It may develop after an illness, such as a cold. Or it can start during or after a period of high stress. It can also come on slowly, with no clear starting point.
There are no tests to diagnose CFS. Your doctor must base a diagnosis on your medical history and by ruling out other possible causes of symptoms. Getting a diagnosis can take a long time.
CFS has no cure. But medicines can help treat some of your symptoms, such as muscle aches and sleep problems. Moderate physical activity balanced with rest may help keep your energy level up and improve mood, sleep, pain, and other symptoms. Counseling might help you keep a positive outlook.
CFS affects each person differently. Some people with CFS don't have enough energy to leave home. Yet others are able to improve symptoms to the point that they can go back to work and lead near-normal lives.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Fact Sheet — This fact sheet gives general information on chronic fatigue syndrome. It describes the symptoms, causes, treatment, and alternatives that can help a person cope with this syndrome.
Explore other publications and websites
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome — This resource page provides information on the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. It also provides resources for support groups and current research being conducted.
Employees With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Copyright © Job Accommodation Network) — This publication for employers provides basic information on how to provide workplace accommodations for employees with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Management of CFS — This publication discuss the difficulties of living with CFS as well as various treatment options.
Connect with other organizations
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS
Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America, Inc.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee, HHS
Chronic Pain Research Alliance
International Association for CFS/ME
National CFIDS Foundation
Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
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