Greater than 1 million Individuals have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Whereas researchers tie it to issues involving the brain, immune system, and vitality metabolism, the causes of the sickness and a remedy stay undiscovered. Dana J. Brimmer, PhD, a visiting scientist on the CDC, explains what medical doctors do know.
Q: What is that this illness?
Brimmer: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a severe, long-term sickness that may radically alter sufferers’ lives and final for years. Folks with ME/CFS usually have [symptoms that include moderate, severe, and substantial] pain, [debilitating] fatigue, and sleep issues.
Whereas there isn’t any remedy, a prognosis will help sufferers and households by giving them a greater understanding of ME/CFS and data about managing signs. As well as, [the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)] now offers medical doctors the steering they should consider and handle the situation.
What are the signs?
In response to the [NAS], ME/CFS has 5 important signs:
- A big drop in means to carry out an individual’s ordinary actions that lasts for greater than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue
- Signs that worsen after doing bodily or psychological actions that will have been “ordinary” earlier than they turned sick (often known as post-exertional malaise, or PEM)
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Problem pondering, processing info, or concentrating
- Signs that worsen when an individual stands up however enhance when mendacity down (often known as orthostatic intolerance)
Many sufferers with ME/CFS say that PEM is the symptom that interferes with their lives probably the most. PEM shouldn’t be all the time predictable, so it’s exhausting to plan actions. For instance, an individual with ME/CFS might be able to go to the grocery retailer with out issues on some days. However on others, the journey might confine them to mattress relaxation for a number of days after. Folks with ME/CFS may additionally have ache, a sore throat, or flu-like signs.
What if an individual suspects ME/CFS?
Speak to a health care provider. Solely a health care supplier could make a prognosis. Since signs fluctuate, some sufferers discover it useful to maintain monitor of signs and produce a listing to the primary appointment. Folks can discover details about ME/CFS on the web sites of the CDC and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH).
How can I help somebody with ME/CFS?
ME/CFS impacts sufferers, households, and associates. An important help you’ll be able to present is to grasp that the sickness is actual and has long-term penalties. The severity of ME/CFS varies by particular person — for instance, some folks can nonetheless work, however others are very sick and homebound.
The sickness may also fluctuate for a single affected person — generally she could seem “high-quality,” whereas different occasions, she could also be too sick to do regular actions. Attempt to perceive these ups and downs, and ask what you are able to do to assist.
By the Numbers
2x: Variety of ladies who’ve ME/CFS as in comparison with males, though folks of each sexes can have the situation.
30s and 40s: Ages when the situation most frequently seems. But it surely can also have an effect on younger children, teens, and older adults.
$17 billion to $24 billion: Quantity in annual medical payments and misplaced revenue attributable to ME/CFS within the U.S.
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