You know what fatigue feels like. After a 50 mile backpacking trip, a hundred-hour workweek, or a weekend caring for sick children, you feel tired. Your body may even show physical symptoms of exhaustion that require you to take a few extra days to relax or recover.
But if you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), tiredness seems like a constant challenge. Chronic fatigue can impact your ability to work and function normally. In fact, you might face scenarios, including:
Absence from work
Isolation from friends and family
Inability to perform normal tasks or participate in hobbies
If you worry that you’ve developed chronic fatigue, read through these 10 key symptoms before consulting your doctor.
1. You Have Irregular Joint Pain
Individuals with chronic fatigue report joint pain with no swelling. If you have bone or joint pain but haven’t sustained a sports injury or accident, you may suffer from chronic fatigue.
2. You Experience Severe Headaches
You used to get minor headaches once every few months, but now you’ve noticed that you get intense headaches and migraines every week. Chronic fatigue may be the cause. CFS-induced headaches occur more intensely and frequently than regular head pains. Rather than stock up on Aspirin the next time you get an unusual headache, consult your doctor to see if you suffer from chronic fatigue.
3. You Feel More Sore After Routine Exercise
Doctors call extreme muscle pain associated with chronic fatigue “post-exertional malaise.” Talk to your physician if you feel incredibly exhausted after a physical exercise of any kind.
4. You Always Feel Exhausted
When you feel tired, your body tells you that you need more rest. However, chronic fatigue causes you to feel exhausted even when you get enough sleep. If eight hours a night don’t seem to make you feel alert and awake, chronic fatigue may be the culprit.
5. You Can’t Concentrate or Remember Details
Can you sit at your desk long enough to complete a task? Do you stay focused as you read through a newspaper article? If you can’t concentrate on basic tasks, your brain may be too exhausted to work effectively.
Chronic fatigue can also impact your short-term memory. Take note if you have difficulty remembering minor details such as your friends’ names or where you put your keys.
6. You Have a Sore Throat or Swollen Lymph Nodes
The physical signs of chronic fatigue often resemble the flu or a viral infection. When your scratchy throat or inflamed nodes remain after you’ve taken over-the-counter medication or other measures, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible.
If your doctor discovers that these symptoms don’t correlate to an illness, he or she will explore other options to diagnose the cause.
7. You Feel Dizzy and Lightheaded
Do you feel unsteady even when you sit at your desk? Does the room spin after you stand up? Should you experience these or similar indicators, you could suffer from low blood pressure or a more serious medical condition.
And if you experience an irregular heartbeat or chest pains, don’t wait to seek medical treatment.
8. You Develop Depression-Like Symptoms
Depression and CFS share many of the same warning signs. Additionally, lingering depression can cause you to develop CFS and vice versa. The following signs can indicate clinical depression or chronic fatigue:
Loss of interest in your favorite activities
Unexplained physical or emotional exhaustion
9. You Lose Your Appetite
Many individuals with chronic fatigue report that they feel too tired or nauseated to stomach regular meals. When you have CFS, you may also gain or lose weight while your body juggles other symptoms. When your eating habits change and you don’t feel in control of your body, talk to a doctor.
10. You Have a Hormonal Imbalances or a Weak Immune System
Recent studies have shown a correlation between imbalanced hormones and CFS. Some doctors also think that those with weak immune systems pick up more infections that can lead to chronic fatigue. If you notice these or other symptoms and also suffer from an immune or hormone disorder, your heightened tiredness could point to chronic fatigue.
Many people experience fatigue while they manage difficult life events. And as their circumstances change, they overcome these symptoms. Before you go to the doctor’s office and demand treatment, make sure to track your symptoms. For medical professionals to diagnose chronic fatigue accurately, you should exhibit multiple symptoms consistently for six months.
Treatment options do exist for chronic fatigue, so don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for suggestions. The next time you feel overwhelmed or exhausted for an extended period of time, don’t attempt a self-diagnosis. Remember to keep these 10 signs in mind before you schedule an appointment with your physician to determine if you suffer from chronic fatigue.