Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – What is ME?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating, long-term illness that affects many body systems. Those with ME/CF experience intense and lasting feelings of fatigue. At times, ME/CF can restrict them to bed all day. The causes for this debilitating disease are still unknown, but many health professionals believe it is caused by a shortage of the nerves that deliver messages from the brain to the rest of the body.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see your doctor. He or she will perform tests to determine if there are any underlying physical problems causing the symptoms. Often times, ME/CF is misdiagnosed because people confuse the symptoms for other illnesses. However, if someone has gotten better, they might still have chronic fatigue syndrome, which means they need to get treated.

Some of the more common ME symptoms include depression, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating and insomnia. Other less common issues include gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, headaches, constipation, vomiting and nausea, loss of appetite, muscle pain and tingling in arms and legs, severe sweating in the face and feet, muscle weakness, urinary frequency and increased urination. If you have ongoing feelings of depression and anxiety, or if you are constantly fatigued, you probably have ME. Other physical symptoms include joint pain, swelling and stiffness, difficulty getting around and cramping, problems with digestion such as constipation, heartburn and acid reflux, dizziness and lightheadedness.

The most commonly reported physical symptom is pain in the muscles and joints of the body, especially in the lower back and the abdomen. Other symptoms include severe muscle aches, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, headaches, urinary frequency and increased urination. Some sufferers also report having mood swings, lack of concentration, difficulty sleeping and depression. Chronic fatigue is usually the main symptom, whereas other less common types of ME include migraine headaches, aching muscles and joints, unexplained fever, lack of appetite and skin rash.

Treatment for ME varies from person to person, although most doctors use anti-inflammatory drugs, since it is the underlying cause of the illness, to help patients get better quicker. In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe a course of antibiotics to fight off the illness and to treat the symptoms. If someone thinks they have chronic fatigue syndrome, it is important to visit a doctor to get diagnosed properly. Only when the illness is properly diagnosed, can treatment be found that will get better patient’s lives back on track.

As of now, there really isn’t any way to test for ME. Doctors cannot test for the illness using blood tests or through ear pinning. A health professional who suspects that a person may have ME should see a physician for a proper diagnosis. I am usually treated with a course of anti inflammatory drugs, which are usually in the form of steroids. The doctor may also prescribe some form of a cognitive enhancing medication to help patients cope with the symptoms of ME.