Factors Complicating the Diagnosis of ME/CFS
For healthcare providers, diagnosing ME/CFS can be complicated by a number of factors including:
- There is no lab test or biomarker for ME/CFS.
- Fatigue and other symptoms of ME/CFS are common to many illnesses.
- For some patients with ME/CFS, it may not be obvious to healthcare providers that they are ill. Patients are most likely to come to clinic on the days that they are feeling their best.
- The illness has a pattern of remission and relapse, which can be unpredictable.
- Symptoms vary from person to person in frequency and severity. Those most severely affected by ME/CFS may not seek care because they are too ill to come to a clinic. Others may worsen over time and become unable to visit their healthcare provider.
- The complexity and duration of the illness or prior healthcare experiences can contribute to communication difficulties between patients and healthcare providers.
- There is a lack of adequate education about and acceptance of the illness in the medical community.
These factors have contributed to a low diagnosis rate and continued stigma and suffering caused by this illness. A healthcare provider can make the diagnosis of ME/CFS based on a thorough medical history and physical examination, laboratory test results (see Evaluation), and evaluating for other fatiguing illnesses with a targeted work-up.
Disclaimer: The content of this ME/CFS website is for informational purposes only and does not represent a federal guideline or recommendation for the treatment of ME/CFS. The information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for the medical judgment of the healthcare provider and does not indicate an exclusive course of action or treatment.