In the United States, it is estimated that one million people have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). The disease is classified as a neurological disorder by the World Health Organization. It affects adults and children, and has no known cause. ME is a complex condition, affecting people from all walks of life. Some people live with ME for years without being diagnosed. Others have a rapid onset of the disease. Many people have difficulty doing their everyday activities.
People with ME have a variety of symptoms, including pain, myalgia, fatigue, and cognitive problems. There are many treatment options available, and some symptoms can be relieved. For those who have a severe case, around the clock care is often required.
The diagnosis of ME is made by a medical professional based on the patient’s history of symptoms. Other diseases that share similar symptoms must also be excluded before the diagnosis can be made. This is because the severity of ME can vary from person to person. While the illness is not fatal, a relapse can permanently worsen the condition. A few medications are available, though no cure for ME is currently available.
Some children who develop ME will also experience difficulty with memory and concentration. If a child’s condition is particularly severe, they may be unable to attend school. Also, they will usually suffer from dizziness, trouble regulating their temperature, and poor sleep.
Post-exertional malaise (PEM) is a condition where the individual experiences an increased level of pain, tiredness, and other symptoms after physical, mental, or emotional exertion. Typically, PEM occurs after physical exercise, but it can also occur after cognitive activity such as reading, talking, or working. Symptoms can increase significantly after an infection or a surgical procedure. Another common trigger of ME is the Epstein-Barr virus. Several other herpes viruses have been implicated in the illness, including the Ross River virus.
Post-exertional malaise can lead to permanent worsening of the illness. For this reason, it is important to seek a specialist team for treatment. These teams should consist of a range of healthcare professionals, including occupational therapists, dietitians, and exercise physiologists.
ME is a chronic relapsing-remitting illness, which means that the patient’s well-being can fluctuate significantly from day to day. The recovery time for ME is often long. It can take weeks or months before the person is fully restored. On the worst days, three out of four people with ME are housebound.
Patients with ME have lower health-related quality of life scores than patients with other chronic diseases. Unlike most chronic conditions, the symptoms of ME can be triggered by infectious agents. Because of this, it is possible for a person to recover from an infection and then begin experiencing symptoms again.
Many people are confused about how to recognize symptoms of ME. Fortunately, a recent booklet explains how to recognize and refer to the disease. Moreover, local support groups are available in some areas to provide information and peer support to patients. Those who are affected by the condition can apply for disability and receive assistance with obtaining assistive devices.