Although ME is a chronic illness, there is no universally effective treatment. Because there is no cure or definite cause, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms. Some treatments improve symptoms and enhance functioning in some patients. Treatment for ME varies widely between countries, and the best course of action is highly personalized. The symptoms of ME often are severe, and a patient’s life expectancy is severely reduced. Most ME patients are housebound and require around-the-clock care.
The hallmark of ME is post-exertional malaise. This symptom, also known as post-exertional malaise, generally develops after prolonged physical or mental exertion. Symptoms can worsen and last for several days after a bout of exhaustion. Some sufferers may even end up bedbound. For some people, ME may be so debilitating that they become incapable of performing even basic activities.
ME is a multisystem illness and biological abnormalities have been found in several bodily systems. Researchers suggest that the disease is caused by a vagus nerve infection, which runs from the brain stem throughout the body. ME is difficult to diagnose because most medical providers do not recognize it, making it difficult to test for a cause. Despite its prevalence, there is no known cure. Until recently, the treatment for ME was not particularly successful.
The World Health Organization recognizes ME as a neurological disease. Several years ago, an outbreak of the Coronavirus in Incline Village in Nevada triggered the development of the first known case of ME. However, the diagnosis of ME/CFS has continued to evolve since the early 1990s, and is now used by most physicians. The Institute of Medicine has published a comprehensive report of the medical literature regarding the condition. While some research still remains unanswered, most medical experts agree that ME is a disabling condition that affects a large proportion of the population.
A recent US Institute of Medicine report recommended a new name for ME and a clinical definition for SEID. While these proposals have been widely accepted in medical journals, a more critical analysis of the proposal was recently published by Jason et al. Despite the overwhelming support for the new name, the majority of UK respondents oppose the change. The Institute of Medicine report also found that patients with ME are more likely to have higher rates of depression than those without the illness.
Despite the wide range of symptoms, ME is often associated with depression, fatigue, and other psychological problems. The World Health Organization classified ME as a neurological disorder in 1975. Infections, which can affect the nervous system and cause fatigue, trigger the onset of ME in many patients. Worldwide, there are approximately 15-30 million people who suffer from ME. Most are unable to work. Approximately 75% of people with ME cannot work. However, it is still important to seek treatment for ME, as the symptoms and treatments may vary widely.
Managing ME/CFS can be challenging, but with proper self-management, small changes can have a huge impact on the symptoms. Managing time well is crucial, especially if you can find ways to schedule time wisely. Making a plan of the day can help you develop an accurate picture of how you use energy, and may even allow you to identify patterns of symptoms. Rest is also important in managing ME/CFS, and includes physical, mental, and emotional activities.