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Researchers Are Working On A Chronic Fatigue Diagnostic Test

Chronic fatigue is one of the autoimmune diseases that really just baffles doctors and scientists alike. It’s difficult to diagnose, has an array of vague symptoms that vary for every person, and many people just don’t understand how real it can be. This syndrome is so much more than just being tired.

It hinders people from having jobs, lives and relationships with other people. It can keep you from everything you love about your life. In fact, chronic fatigue may feel more like living in a personal prison cell because it’s something that often feels impossible to escape.

Like many other similar diseases, living with chronic fatigue is difficult for those around you to comprehend. Many people in your life will still ask you why you can’t just “get more sleep.” It’s difficult for some people to really get that fatigue actually doesn’t have much to do with sleep at all.

Instead, it’s about feeling exhausted regardless of your sleep patterns. It’s about waking up to more exhaustion than you fell asleep to. It’s painful. And more than anything, it’s real. And many, many people are suffering from it right now.

One challenge doctors and researchers are facing right now is how to diagnose someone with chronic fatigue

Right now, there’s really no way to be 100 percent certain that someone is suffering from chronic fatigue. In fact, it may be years before a test exists, if ever. But that isn’t stopping researchers from developing tests that can help right now.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, only about 20 percent of those suffering with chronic fatigue have been diagnosed. This means that the majority of people who are suffering from this painful syndrome don’t even know they have it yet. They may be going from doctor to doctor, trying to understand what’s wrong with them. They may have been searching for answers for years, or even decades. It’s heartbreaking to think that there are so many people who don’t have the answers they’re looking for about their physical health. Of course, there are a lot of us here at Autoimmune Mom who can relate to this pain and searching associated with so many diseases.

A group of researchers at Stanford University recently took part in a study to see if they could find a way to diagnose this disease. Since many individuals who suffer from this syndrome have some kind of flu-like symptoms – which creates inflammation in the cells – researchers tested the blood of almost 200 patients with the disease, and compared that to more than 390 healthy patients.

These researchers actually found levels of some immune-system signaling proteins – or cytokines – were higher in patients with relatively severe chronic fatigue. The study’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. These findings may help scientists create a blood test that will help diagnose those who are suffering from this disease. While the findings are a great step forward for this disease, it will still be a while before we will ever have a diagnostic tests in our doctor’s offices for this disease.

So what does this mean for those of us suffering from this disease right now? It means that researchers aren’t giving up on looking for answers about this syndrome, so you shouldn’t give up on fighting it. There’s no reason to give up hope that the future will bring some answers to this disease, or any other disease you may be dealing with. We need to trust that researchers will continue to do whatever they can to learn more about our diseases and eventually we will start to see improvements in medicine. Just like everything else in life, there will be a bright spot at the end of the tunnel. Even if the tunnel is really, really long and painful.

So, don’t give up if you’re suffering from chronic fatigue. Researchers are working on it. And if you aren’t sure if you have this autoimmune disease, don’t stop looking for answers. Try as many doctors as you need to. Build a support network. And, above all else, just keep going.


About the Author
Katie Cleary is founder of  She lives with her autoimmune conditions and her family in Austin, Texas.

This blog post was originally published by, written by Katie Cleary, and first published on Sep 12, 2017.

This post contains the opinions of the author. Autoimmune Association is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances. Autoimmune Association does not endorse nor recommend any products, practices, treatment methods, tests, physicians, service providers, procedures, clinical trials, opinions or information available on this website. Your use of the website is subject to our Privacy Policy.

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