DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn't improve with rest.
Chronic fatigue syndrome has also been called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and, more recently, systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). Although CFS/ME and SEID share the same major symptom of chronic fatigue, there is variation between the definitions of these disorders. The symptom of chronic fatigue also may arise from more than one underlying condition.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.
There's no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. You may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome focuses on symptom relief.
Aug. 30, 2016
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/. Accessed March 30, 2014.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 30, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 30, 2014.
- Gluckman SJ. Clinical features and diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 30, 2014.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. Chicago, Ill.: International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. http://www.iacfsme.org/Portals/0/PDF/PrimerFinal3.pdf. Accessed March 31, 2014.
- Smith MEB, et al. Treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: A systematic review for a National Institutes of Health Pathways to Prevention workshop. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2015;162:841.
- Fleming KC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 22, 2016.