ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) or CFS/FM (chronic fatigue syndrome) is an illness that affects more than 15 million people worldwide. It’s a long-term, fluctuating disease that affects the brain, muscles and immune system.
It’s a chronic illness that can be very difficult to treat. It doesn’t have a specific cause or cure, but there are ways to relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
The symptoms of ME vary from person to person but the main symptoms are extreme tiredness, cognitive difficulties and pain in muscles and joints. They can also include emotional problems, low mood and depression.
When you’re sick with ME, your body can experience a relapse after you’ve had a bit of physical activity. This is called post-exertional malaise (PEM) and can happen immediately after exercise or after a day at work, but it may last for 24 hours or more. This can make it difficult to do the things you need to do, like eat, go to the bathroom or take a shower.
Many people with ME struggle to get a good night’s rest and can wake up feeling tired or ill. PEM and unrefreshing sleep can both contribute to the fatigue that comes with the disease.
There are also other symptoms, which can make it hard to work and get on with everyday life. These can include a wide range of issues, such as nausea and dizziness.
Your symptoms might be related to a number of other illnesses, or your body might react to certain types of medication you’re taking. This is why it’s important to get a diagnosis from your doctor as early as possible.
It’s hard to diagnose ME/CFS because there is no single laboratory test that can confirm a positive diagnosis. Instead, a doctor or specialist will consider your history of symptoms and medical history to make a diagnosis.
Often there’s not a clear answer to the question of what’s causing your ME/CFS, but it is thought that some viruses can trigger it and that other conditions could cause similar symptoms. It’s also possible that your symptoms are caused by a combination of factors, such as your lifestyle or your genetic predisposition.
Some of the comorbidities or’side effects’ that occur with ME can also be serious, including secondary depression and Ehler’s Danlos syndrome (hyperextension). In addition to these, there are some people who have other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The most important thing to remember is that, no matter what name you use for your condition, ME/CFS is very common and it affects people of all ages, genders and racial/ethnic backgrounds. It is also very difficult to treat, and a misdiagnosis can be devastating.
There are no drugs or vaccines available for ME/CFS, but there are medications that can help manage your symptoms and prevent relapses. Your doctor will be able to recommend the right drug or medication for you.
It’s best to talk to your doctor about these and other treatment options if you’re experiencing any serious side effects from medication or other treatments. They can also recommend other resources and support groups that can help you cope with your ME/CFS.