People with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome experience a variety of symptoms. However there are certain diagnostic criterias that are used in diagnosing CFS & FM. An example for CFS is fatigue that decreases the person's normal activities (work, social, educational or personal) which lasts for 6 months. This fatigue can be persistant or reacurring but it is not caused by increase work load nor is relieved by rest. We all may get tired from time to time (what I call the couch potatoe syndrome) but after rest or a good night's sleep we feel ready to go again. People with CFS do not feel rested but are still exhuasted. People with FM will have a debilitating level of widespread pain for at least 3 months. This pain will be on both sides of the body, as well as in the lower and upper part of the body. Many FM sufferers describe it as having a bad case of the flu or being run over by an 18 wheeler or "mack truck". With both the fatigue and pain the doctor would run several tests to rule out any other possible causes such as lupus or cancer.
There are other diagnostic criterias for both these syndromes which I have included below. However I will describe the "syndrome symptoms here. These syndrome symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome (intermittant diarrhea or loose stools, and constipation or small firm stools), cognitive difficulties (includes poor memory, decreased concentration, easily distracted or confused), hypoglycemic symptoms (feeling weak, irritable, and or shaky several hours after eating or before meals), migraine type headaches (includes pain on one side of head, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound and stiff neck) and chemical/ food sensitivities (certain chemicals, foods or smells create a sick or unpleasant feeling). Many people do have one or more of these syndrome symptoms from various conditions. However research has shown these syndrome symptoms occur in people with FM & CFS.
Many people may think "doesn't everyone have these idiosynchroncies from time to time?" Therefore many people think FM & CFS is all in the person's head. However their symptoms are no more "all in their head" than the common cold. Try going 4 or 5 days with half the sleep you normally get & see what happens. Chances are your body will have a physical complaint. New research seem to be showing stress, emotions & psychological factors effect conditions that normally had been viewed as having a pure medical cause and showing conditions that have normally been viewed as stress related have a physical cause (Ex. Stomach ulcers now have been found to be caused by a virus. Now researchers are thinking manic depression and schizophrenia are caused by a virus.). Some research have shown some physical signs in people with FM & CFS and that some people are genetically predisposed to FM & CFS. However not everyone who has FM or CFS has all of these signs (ex. antinuclear antibodies, or alpha delta abnormality) & some people who may have these signs but are not bothered by these signs are not diagnosed with FM or CFS.
There are certain diagnostic criterias for both FM & CFS.
I will provide the criterias for both FM and CFS.
FM Diagnostic criteria:
1. widespread pain for 3 months (includes upper & lower as well as right & left sides of body) which no other cause can be found.
2. 11 out of 18 tender points.
Your doctor should run various tests to rule out other conditions such as lupus & thyroid problems.
Other accompanying conditions:
Alpha-delta wave abnormality (awake brain waves intrude into stage 4 (restorative) sleep. You wake up in the morning in pain & feel as if you never got to sleep.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (many people have this- frequent diarrhea / loose stools and constipation)
Poor memory/ concentration: actually have difficulty remembering things and processing new information.
Myofascial Pain Disorder: pain radiates into other areas (trigger points)
Nervous system appears overly sensitive to daily stimuli (Chemical /food / order sensitivies, skin may be overly sensitive to pain)
Depression /Anxiety: (Some researchers found these conditons are result of FM & others found some people with FM had preexisting depression / anxiety.)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria:
Severe chronic fatigue for longer than 6 months. The fatigue must be clinically evaluated and found to be unexplained persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that is new or a definite onset. This fatigue is not the result of ongoing exertion and is not substantially alleviated by rest. This fatigue results in substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, social, educational, or personal activities.
There is a concurrent occurrence of 4 or more of the following symptoms which has persisted or recurred during the 6 or more consecutive months of the fatigue but did not occure prior to the onset of the fatigue.
Impairment in short-term memory or concentration severe enough to cause substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social or personal activities.
Sore throat (possibly from post nasal drip)
Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
Multijoint pain without joint swelling or redness
Headaches of a new type (ex. development of migraines), pattern or severity
Unrefreshing sleep (wake up feeling tired & sleepy instead of rested & ready for the day, caused by the alpha-delta abnormality)
Postexertional malaise lasting longer than 24 hours.
Idiopathic Chronic Fatigue is clinically evaluated, unexplained chronic fatigue but does not meet the criteria for CFS.