Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a devastating illness with disabling symptoms. To add to the stress of this illness, getting a diagnosis is difficult.
With many chronic autoimmune illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, getting a diagnosis is usually a matter of getting specific laboratory tests to confirm the disease. But CFS is a sneaky mimicker which makes a diagnosis more difficult.
Four Reasons why a CFS Diagnosis is Difficult
There are a few reasons why a diagnosis is problematic, including the following:
1. CFS does not have its own unique physical symptoms – it mimics a number of other chronic illnesses.
2. There are no specific diagnostic laboratory tests that can pinpoint CFS.
3. Many doctors are ill-equipped to make a CFS diagnosis. In fact, research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that less than 20% of CFS patients in this country have been diagnosed.
4. Ruling out other chronic illnesses, along with an in depth medical history, creates a process of elimination of other illnesses rather than direct diagnosis of CFS.
This is a difficult road to manage. It is littered with uncertainty, depression, and disabling physical symptoms. Knowing what to look for and what illnesses need to be dismissed by your doctor will help with this process.
Chronic Illnesses to be Tested for Prior to a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosis
Some diseases that CFS mimics include the following, and you should be tested for these first:
1. multiple sclerosis
3. Lyme’s disease
6. sleep apnea
7. chronic mononucleosis or Epstein-Barr virus
8. major depressive disorders
Please note, this is far from a complete list of chronic illnesses that have similar symptoms to CFS, one of the major symptoms being fatigue. While there are many others, these are the ones that seem to be at the top of the “to be eliminated” list. It’s always important to discuss all your options and any questions you may have with your doctor. And, in the case of CFS, you may need to see a number of different specialists to be sure you are not misdiagnosed. These specialists may include an endocrinologist, neurologist, rheumatologist, and pulmonary specialist.
While it may be a long road to a diagnosis, try not to rush the process. Some of the illnesses with similar symptoms to CFS are treatable and shouldn’t be overlooked. Others may be more serious and need to be addressed. It is essential to get a correct diagnosis in order to be treated effectively for CFS or any other illnesses you may have.
If you’d like to learn more about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, please visit the sites listed below:
CFIDS Association of America
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and these health strategies are my own, based on my alternative medicine doctors. You MUST speak to your own doctor before starting any health regime.