The Scoop on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


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

Q: What is that this illness?

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

Whereas there is no such thing as a treatment, a prognosis may help sufferers and households by giving them a greater understanding of ME/CFS and information about managing signs. As well as, [the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)] now provides medical doctors the steerage they should consider and handle the situation.

What are the signs?

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

  • A big drop in potential to carry out an individual’s typical 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 “typical” earlier than they grew to become sick (also referred to as post-exertional malaise, or PEM)
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Issue pondering, processing data, or concentrating
  • Signs that worsen when an individual stands up however enhance when mendacity down (also referred to as orthostatic intolerance)

Many sufferers with ME/CFS say that PEM is the symptom that interferes with their lives probably the most. PEM shouldn’t be all the time 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. Individuals with ME/CFS can also have ache, a sore throat, or flu-like signs.

What if an individual suspects ME/CFS?

Speak to a health care provider. Solely a health care supplier could make a prognosis. Since signs range, some sufferers discover it useful to maintain monitor of signs and produce a listing to the primary appointment. Individuals can discover details about ME/CFS on the web sites of the CDC and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH).

How can I assist somebody with ME/CFS?

ME/CFS impacts sufferers, households, and mates. A very powerful assist 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 folks can nonetheless work, however others are very sick and homebound.

The sickness also can range for a single affected person — generally she could seem “wonderful,” whereas different occasions, she could also be too sick 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 folks 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, teens, and older adults.

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

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