Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is a chronic and debilitating illness that affects various body systems. It interferes with the usual activities of individuals, and at times, confines them to bed due to extreme fatigue and sleep issues. The condition can worsen after individuals with ME/CFS try to do as much as they desire or need, resulting in post-exertional malaise (PEM). Additionally, people with ME/CFS may experience other symptoms such as difficulties with cognitive function, pain, and dizziness.
Do people with CFS look ill?
Individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome may not look ill. However,
People with chronic fatigue syndrome experience significant changes in their ability to carry out daily tasks as they did before falling ill. Simple activities such as showering or preparing meals can become challenging and difficult to manage. The condition often interferes with one’s ability to maintain a job, attend school, or engage in social and family life. The duration of condition can last for several years, sometimes leading to severe disability. In fact, statistics show that at least one in four patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are confined to their bed or house-bound for an extended period due to the severity of the illness.
How is fatigue associated with CFS different?
The fatigue associated with CFS is different in the following ways: it is neither associated with activity, nor does it improve with rest. Though fatigue is severe, it was not there before.
What is post-exertional malaise?
PEM or post-exertional malaise manifests after mental or physical exertion. In other words, it is a crash after exertion. When you go through PEM, you will experience new or worsening symptoms. They include extreme tiredness, dizziness, headaches, a sore throat, difficulty sleeping, difficulty thinking and confusion.
Who are at risk of getting CFS?
Chronic fatigue syndrome affects people of all ages irrespective of gender. It affects children, me, women, adolescents and elderly people. However, it is common between age 40 to 60 years. It affects women more often than men. The irony is that many people (almost 90%) are not diagnosed and continue to suffer silently without actually knowing what is wrong with them.
A lack of awareness or access to quality healthcare is the main reason behind CFS not being diagnosed in many cases.
Is it not possible to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome?
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is still unknown, and there are currently no definitive laboratory tests to diagnose it directly. Hence, doctors must assess the person’s symptoms and medical history in detail to arrive at a diagnosis. It is also essential that medical professionals identify and treat any other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Although there is no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, it is possible to manage symptoms and treat the condition by various means.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated condition that can have a widespread impact on the body, leading to pain and severe fatigue. In the past, CFS was not considered a genuine illness by some individuals. However, the situation has changed in recent times, and medical professionals and researchers are now taking it more seriously. There are ongoing efforts to investigate the causes of ME/CFS and develop effective treatment methods. Meanwhile, people with ME/CFS may find some relief from the symptoms through lifestyle adjustments and medical treatment.