Most people who have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) also suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), as the two conditions share comorbidity with each other. So, how do you to tell if you have fibro fog, chronic fatigue…or both?
About 80 to 90 percent of all chronic fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue sufferers female. Also, fibromyalgia sufferers share many of the same symptoms, such as severe chronic pain and mental exhaustion.
If that’s the case, then how does one tell the two conditions apart?
Symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
In order for you physician to diagnose CFS or FMS, you must exhibit some of the following symptoms:
- Extreme mental fatigue
- Muscle or joint pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unusual headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome
So we know what features CFS and FMS have in common, but what criteria do physicians use to tell them apart?
The basic difference is that fibromyalgia is that fibromyalgia involves specific pain points, while chronic fatigue has no rhyme or reason.
However, that’s only a rough description.
Factors that differentiate fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome, compared with 1 million who suffer from chronic fatigue. If you suspect you have one or the other, seek a fibromyalgia diagnosis first.
A rheumatologist often determines fibromyalgia, while an infectious disease specialist is more likely to diagnose CFS.
2) The substance P factor
Fibromyalgia patients have 300% more substance P, a chemical that your brain uses to spread pain signals throughout your body. The more substance P your body emits following an injury, the stronger your body’s reaction to pain.
If you have fibromyalgia, then you suffer three times the amount of muscular pain or joint aches than people who don’t have chronic illness.
3) It’s in the zone
There are approximately 18 distinct pain points throughout body that signal fibromyalgia syndrome. To receive a diagnosis, fibromyalgia sufferers must exhibit soreness in at least 11 of these specified zones. Conversely, chronic fatigue patients have no connection with the 18 pain points.
4) Chronic fatigue is viral
Chronic fatigue syndrome patients have higher levels of an antiviral enzyme, RNase L, leading experts to believe that CFS is the result of an autoimmune disorder following exposure to a virus.
While fibromyalgia often begins following an emotional trauma or physical injury, CFS generally appears because of a viral infection, like mono or the flu. Chronic fatigue sufferers often complain of residual flu-like symptoms and sore throat, in addition to exhaustion following physical exercise. CFS patients feel tired all day, even after sleeping a full eight hours.