Diagnosing ME/CFS

Key points

  • There is no test available to specifically screen for ME/CFS.
  • Your healthcare provider will start by asking about your symptoms and health history.
  • They will also do a physical and mental exam.
  • And finally, they will take blood and urine samples from you to rule out other illnesses.
Stethoscope on book.

Learning your health history

Your healthcare provider will start with basic questions about your health:

  • Have you been diagnosed with any other conditions?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Have you had prior illnesses or surgeries? If so, what?
  • Are you allergic to anything?
  • What illnesses have affected your family members in the past?

To better understand whether you may have ME/CFS, your healthcare provider may ask more about your activities and abilities. The questions might include:

  • What can you do now? How is it different than before?
  • How long have you felt this way?
  • Do you feel better after sleeping or resting?
  • What makes you feel worse? What helps you feel better?
  • What happens when you push to do activities that are now hard for you?
  • Are you able to think as clearly as you did before becoming ill?
  • What symptoms keep you from doing what you need or want to do?

You may want to keep an activity journal. This could help you remember important details when you see a healthcare provider.

Learning more about your illness

Your healthcare provider might refer you to a specialist to do try to learn more about what's causing your symptoms. Some types of specialists you may see include:

  • A neurologist (brain and nervous system doctor)
  • A rheumatologist (joint, muscle and bone doctor), or
  • A sleep specialist.

These specialists can check for other conditions that can cause similar symptoms similar to ME/CFS. They might also find that you have other conditions that can be treated - either instead of or in addition to ME/CFS. Getting treatment for these other conditions, if you have them, might help you feel better.

You can read more about how healthcare providers diagnose ME/CFS in the 2015 Institute of Medicine report on ME/CFS. This report includes the symptoms you must have to be diagnosed with ME/CFS. It also includes symptoms that some people with ME/CFS have, while others don't.


  • Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. The information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.