Understanding how difficult diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is can be frustrating to anyone who suspects they may have this condition as there is no specific test to pinpoint the disorder yet.
However, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided two standard qualifications aiding physicians to distinguish a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome.
1) Unexplained fatigue that lasts for 6 months or longer. It prevents the person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from doing everyday living activities. It becomes overwhelming with no apparent reason. It affects school, work and leisure.
2) Having four or more of the symptoms mentioned in their diagnostic test list (you’ll find the list here http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/diagnosis/step-5.html).
Because there is no laboratory test specifically for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, your health care provider must carefully observe the signs and symptoms you are exhibiting. The symptoms must have persisted during six or more consecutive months of illness and must not have been experienced before your fatigue first became apparent.
Your health care provider will take a comprehensive medical history together with a head to toe physical exam, and laboratory tests to rule out any medical conditions that have similar symptoms. Ruling out other disorders has become the main means of diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, because of this, reaching a final diagnosis can be a prolonged affair.
The successful diagnosis of CFS, however, cannot always be guaranteed. That is why some doctors suggest the patient keeps track of their symptoms and write on a journal. This can help in reviewing the symptoms and so help in the diagnosis by exclusion (ruling out of other illnesses). It is not mandatory but it aids the doctor in arriving at a correct diagnosis.
There have been some advances in research into diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Most notable is a study by Dr. Dikoma C.Shungu, a New York radiology professor and his colleagues. The team discovered what seems to be a breakthrough using magnetic resonance spectroscopy or MRS. The study disclosed a direct connection to elevated levels of lactic acid in the fluid that is present in the brain and spinal chord – 50% of CFS sufferers appear to have levels that are more than three times the norm.
It is hoped that further research may produce a definitive test for how Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is diagnosed.