The Scoop on Continual Fatigue Syndrome


Mid adult woman looking tired

Greater than 1 million People have myalgic encephalomyelitis/continual fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Whereas researchers tie it to issues involving the mind, immune system, and vitality metabolism, the causes of the sickness and a treatment stay undiscovered. Dana J. Brimmer, PhD, a visiting scientist on the CDC, explains what docs do know.

Q: What is that this illness?

Brimmer: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/continual fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a critical, long-term sickness that may radically alter sufferers’ lives and final for years. Folks with ME/CFS usually have [symptoms that include moderate, severe, and substantial] ache, [debilitating] fatigue, and sleep issues.

Whereas there isn’t any treatment, a analysis might help sufferers and households by giving them a greater understanding of ME/CFS and data about managing signs. As well as, [the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)] now offers docs the steering they should consider and handle the situation.

What are the signs?

In keeping with the [NAS], ME/CFS has 5 primary signs:

  • A big drop in means to carry out an individual’s common actions that lasts for greater than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue
  • Signs that worsen after doing bodily or psychological actions that will have been “common” earlier than they turned in poor health (often known as post-exertional malaise, or PEM)
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Problem considering, processing data, or concentrating
  • Signs that worsen when an individual stands up however enhance when mendacity down (often known as orthostatic intolerance)

Many sufferers with ME/CFS say that PEM is the symptom that interferes with their lives essentially the most. PEM isn’t at all times predictable, so it’s onerous to plan actions. For instance, an individual with ME/CFS might be able to go to the grocery retailer with out issues on some days. However on others, the journey may confine them to mattress relaxation for a number of days after. Folks with ME/CFS may additionally have ache, a sore throat, or flu-like signs.

What if an individual suspects ME/CFS?

Speak to a physician. Solely a well being care supplier could make a analysis. Since signs differ, some sufferers discover it useful to maintain observe of signs and convey a listing to the primary appointment. Folks can discover details about ME/CFS on the web sites of the CDC and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH).

How can I help somebody with ME/CFS?

ME/CFS impacts sufferers, households, and pals. Crucial help you possibly can present is to know that the sickness is actual and has long-term penalties. The severity of ME/CFS varies by individual — for instance, some individuals can nonetheless work, however others are very sick and homebound.

The sickness also can differ for a single affected person — typically she might seem “wonderful,” whereas different occasions, she could also be too in poor health to do regular actions. Attempt to perceive these ups and downs, and ask what you are able to do to assist.

By the Numbers

2x: Variety of girls who’ve ME/CFS as in comparison with males, though individuals of each sexes can have the situation.

30s and 40s: Ages when the situation most frequently seems. Nevertheless it can also have an effect on younger youngsters, teenagers, and older adults.

$17 billion to $24 billion: Quantity in annual medical payments and misplaced earnings as a consequence of ME/CFS within the U.S.

Discover extra articles, browse again points, and browse the present difficulty of WebMD Journal.

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