The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is unknown. There are several theories.
One theory is that a viral infection such as glandular fever can trigger the condition. Tiredness is normal after a viral infection, but this does not explain why symptoms persist and get worse.
Another theory is that CFS is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors, which also affect how severe the condition is and how long it lasts.
Contributing factors The main factors thought to increase the risk of developing CFS are:
inherited genetic susceptibility (it is more common in some families)
viral infections such as glandular fever, which weaken the immune system
exhaustion and mental stress
a recent traumatic event, such as bereavement, divorce or redundancy
Factors that make it worse might be:
recurring viral or bacterial infections
not being active enough, or being too active
stress and depression
being socially isolated and/or feeling frustrated and depressed
How is Chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosed?
There is no specific test to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
In order to make a diagnosis your GP will ask you about your medical history and carry out a physical examination. You may have blood tests and scans to rule out other conditions first.
CFS should be confirmed by a clinician after other conditions have been ruled out. The medical definition of CFS/ME states that symptoms should have lasted for at least four months in adults and three months in children and young adults.
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