While dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome is a difficult thing to do under any circumstances, it can be even more difficult before you have a diagnosis. Unfortunately, diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome is difficult on its own. There are no tests that can pinpoint a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome; rather, a combination of tests that rule out other conditions, tests that find possible markers of chronic fatigue, and an interview to learn about the symptoms you've been experiencing are used to make a diagnosis.
Several laboratory tests are helpful for doctors to diagnose chronic fatigue, although many of them are most helpful for determining whether another condition may be causing the fatigue. However, there are some specific chronic fatigue syndrome tests that can be run.
To diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome
A few markers can indicate that somebody has chronic fatigue syndrome, and these can sometimes be discovered through laboratory tests. The most useful tests for diagnosing chronic fatigue are:
Complete blood count (CBC) tests. This gives information about blood and everything in the blood, which may contain a few markers of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). This test determines if there is inflammation in the body that may indicate chronic fatigue or another condition.
Chemistry panel. A chemistry panel is another blood test that can provide an idea of your general state of health.
To diagnose other conditions
Often, the most useful tests for diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome are the ones that test for other conditions. Because so many other diseases and illnesses that cause fatigue can be diagnosed with a test, it is best to rule all of these out before diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome. Some of the most common tests include:
Thyroid-stimulating hormone tests to check the level of functioning of the thyroid
ANA (antinuclear antibodies) to check for lupus, an autoimmune disorder
Blood glucose level tests to check for diabetes
Tests for Lyme disease
A doctor will also hold an informal interview with a patient who may be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome to understand whether the patient's symptoms match the diagnosis. Along with chronic fatigue lasting at least six months, you must have four of the following to be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome:
- No relief from fatigue due to sleep
- Difficulty with memory and focus
- Joint pain with no swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
Once a doctor has performed both the laboratory tests and the patient interview, you may be diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome if you fit all the criteria and have not tested positive for another condition. Learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome and how to treat the condition by reading all about fatigue treatments.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/
- Mayo Clinic. (2016). Chronic fatigue syndrome: Tests and diagnosis. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20022009
- National Health Service UK. (2015). Chronic fatigue syndrome. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Chronic-fatigue-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx