ME, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a chronic illness in which symptoms are variable and relapsing-remitting. A hallmark symptom of ME is post-exertional malaise, which causes significant loss of physical and cognitive function. Patients experience a wide range of symptoms that may affect one or both of the organ systems, including the muscles, joints, and nerves.
Although there are no specific treatments for ME, some methods have helped many people manage the condition and improve their quality of life. Some of these treatments involve lifestyle changes or adjustments to daily routines. Treatment plans are designed to meet the individual needs of the patient. Patients with mild to moderate ME are often offered cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps them adapt to life changes.
Although symptoms of ME vary by person, most people suffer from extreme fatigue throughout the day. Patients often have trouble sleeping and wake frequently during the night. They are also stiff in the morning and may experience cognitive problems. In addition, they can experience flu-like symptoms. People with ME also experience difficulty concentrating, and their energy levels may be low.
ME/CFS is a chronic neurological illness with fluctuating symptoms. It affects many parts of the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. Unlike some types of cancer, it has no definitive cure. However, with the right support, symptoms can be stabilized. The disease may also be present as a part of another illness, such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
ME/CFS can start suddenly or gradually, and it can last months or even years. It can be triggered by a bacterial or viral infection. Enteroviruses, herpesviruses, and Q fever are thought to be potential triggers. Researchers continue to investigate the genes that cause ME/CFS. It is estimated that approximately 250,000 people in the United Kingdom and one million people in the US have the condition.
Symptoms of ME include feeling generally unwell and extremely tired. These symptoms can vary from day to day, but the main symptom is extreme fatigue. This exhaustion can make everyday activities difficult. People who suffer from ME often describe this feeling as being “overwhelmingly tired.” The main goal of treatment is to improve symptoms and prevent the disorder from recurring.
In the United States, three collaborative research centers were recently established to advance research and treatment for ME. Two of these centers are located in New York State, at Cornell University and Columbia University. There are also several organizations dedicated to ME support, and several medical providers who specialize in treating the condition. There is also a worldwide network of patients who campaign for better health equality and access to medicine.
There is no known cure for ME/CFS. Many treatments focus on pacing, or breaking down activity into shorter bursts and rests. The goal is to leave the sufferer with energy at the end of each day.