If you suffer from extreme fatigue, you may have been diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). ME is a long-term neurological condition that affects adults and children, often causing substantial loss of physical and cognitive function. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can be physical, psychological, and immune system related. Although there is no known cure for ME, treatments can improve symptoms and enable people to manage their illness better.
The most important symptom of ME is extreme fatigue. Most patients experience it for most of the day, often becoming too tired to do simple tasks. Other symptoms include muscle pain, poor sleep, and flu-like symptoms. Some people with ME experience other comorbid conditions, such as fibromyalgia and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. However, these other diseases aren’t part of the diagnosis. It’s estimated that one million Americans are currently affected by ME.
Getting a correct diagnosis can be difficult. Many medical professionals have trouble recognizing this condition, and many people with ME have been misdiagnosed. In fact, 90 percent of those with ME don’t get a proper diagnosis. One reason for this is that the symptoms of ME don’t show up on a standard blood test. Another is that doctors haven’t been trained to properly diagnose this condition.
Symptoms can vary from person to person, and it can take years for a doctor to recognize the disease. Patients with mild ME are typically able to perform light domestic tasks, such as washing the dishes, but may not engage in social activities. People with severe ME are bedridden and are often dependent on others for all care. They are often sensitive to sunlight, sound, and light. Their after-effects can last for weeks, if not months. Managing their illness requires finding a balance between rest and activity.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has outlined several diagnostic criteria for ME. These criteria include post-exertional malaise, cognitive impairment, and orthostatic intolerance. While these diagnostic criteria are useful, more research is necessary to fully understand the disease.
A major challenge in diagnosing ME is that it can come on abruptly. This can happen after an infection, a surgical procedure, or a hormonal shift. But the majority of people with ME experience the disease gradually.
As the symptoms of ME vary from patient to patient, the treatments used to help reduce them will vary. Most therapies involve changes to daily activities, such as adapting to a new routine. Additionally, ME isn’t a psychiatric disorder, so patients don’t require medication. Instead, health care providers use a number of different medications, including anti-sickness drugs.
CBT is an example of a treatment that may be helpful for people with ME. Cognitive behavior therapy is a type of therapy that helps patients learn to adapt to their illness and change their behaviors. Treatments can include a structured exercise program or a specific diet. There are also several organizations that provide support to people with ME.