Melissa Kaplan's
Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases
Information on CFS, FM, MCS, Lyme Disease, Thyroid, and more...
Last updated January 1, 2014

Sick or Just Tired?

Excerpted from Too Tired Too Often?, McCall's, September 1994

Karyn L. Feiden

Because of the many symptomes of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic Lyme disease are so familiar, it is easy to start worrying if you feel under the weather for more than a few days. Use this quiz as a guideline to help you distinguish between ordinary fatigue and something more serious. Be sure to see medical help if you have any symptomes that are persistent or severe.

Assessing the nature and intensity of your symptoms

If you force yourself to participate in demanding activity when you don't feel up to it, do you feel sicker the next day?

Do you find that your symptoms are so unpredictable that you can't make plans until the last minute?

Have your personal or professional demands increased recently?

Have you ever experienced a comparable level of fatigue that resolved itself fairly quickly?

Do you feel more energetic if you have gotten at least eight hours of sleep?

Are you plagued by unrelenting muscular, joint or tendon aches throughout your body?

Have you discovered a bull's-eye rash anywhere on your body?

Are you experiencing any unusual cognitive problems, such as inability to concentrate, or confusion?

Are you suffering from headaches that differe in type or severeity from those you have had in the past?

Are you under a great deal of stress?

Have you recently suffered a significant personal loss?

Have you recently made a major change in your life?


Adding it all up...
If you answered yes to questions 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, or 9, you may have a fatigue-related illness that demands investigation by a physician. CFS is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as debilitating fatigue that persists for at least six months, is accompanied by a minimum of 11 out of 14 symptoms - such as joint and muscle aches, mild fever, headaches, sore throat, difficulty concentrating - and cannot be explained by any other condition. According to the American College of Pharmacology, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is appropriate in patients with widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three monhts, and pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific places on the body, mostly the neck, back, shoulders, buttocks, knees and elbows. People also experience a variety of other symptoms, such as fatigue. There is no formal definition for chronic Lyme disease.

If you answered yes to questions 3 or 4, your exhaustion may be an entirely appropriate response to having a stressful schedule.

If you answered yes to question 5, your symptoms may be caused by sleep deprivation.

If you answered yes to questions 10, 11, and 12, consider a psychological explanation. Lethargy is often linked to stressful events.

Comparisons of many different tests conducted on patients with CFIDS, Alzheimer's, AIDS, and depression show that patients suffering with CFIDS have very different test results than individuals with Alzheimer's, AIDS, and primary depression.

While clinical depression can cause a variety of physiological symptoms, if patients with CFIDS/ME/FM are depressed, it is generally a secondary depression brought on as a result of having a chronic, debilitating, life-altering illness. Depression and sleep disorders in CFIDS patients are just two of the many symptoms related to the underlying disease, not the disease itself.




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