Medical History and Physical Exam for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fatigue has many possible causes. The history and physical exam are
the first steps in determining other possible causes of fatigue and what tests
may be needed to check for other conditions.
The medical history for
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) includes questions
about your fatigue and other symptoms. The questions will cover:
When your fatigue began, how severe it is, and
whether it comes and goes in a specific pattern.
such as swollen, red joints, muscle pain, headache, forgetfulness, memory loss,
irritability, or difficulty concentrating.
Your health habits,
including sleep, diet, and exercise, and whether there have been any recent
changes in these habits.
Recent stressful events, such as a change
in employment, loss of a loved one, or difficult family
What medicines you are taking.
past medical history.
Alcohol and drug use.
history of fatigue problems.
What you think might be causing your
Try to describe your symptoms in detail. Writing out a complete
history of your illness before you see the doctor may be helpful.
The doctor also may ask about your mental health.
Depression can contribute to fatigue and other
symptoms. Treating depression often can improve CFS symptoms as well.
The doctor will do a complete physical exam to evaluate your
symptoms and screen for other conditions that could be causing your
The physical exam will help your doctor decide whether you need
further testing and what kind of testing you need. For example, if the doctor
finds that you have swollen, red joints, you may need tests to rule out
conditions that can cause joint pain, such as
rheumatoid arthritis or
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.