Greater than 1 million Individuals have myalgic encephalomyelitis/continual fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Whereas researchers tie it to issues involving the mind, 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/continual fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a severe, long-term sickness that may radically alter sufferers’ lives and final for years. Folks with ME/CFS typically have [symptoms that include moderate, severe, and substantial] ache, [debilitating] fatigue, and sleep issues.
Whereas there isn’t a remedy, a prognosis may also help sufferers and households by giving them a greater understanding of ME/CFS and information about managing signs. As well as, [the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)] now provides medical doctors the steerage they should consider and handle the situation.
What are the signs?
In keeping with the [NAS], ME/CFS has 5 primary signs:
- A big drop in potential to carry out an individual’s typical actions that lasts for greater than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue
- Signs that worsen after doing bodily or psychological actions that may have been “typical” earlier than they turned unwell (also called post-exertional malaise, or PEM)
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Issue pondering, processing data, or concentrating
- Signs that worsen when an individual stands up however enhance when mendacity down (also called orthostatic intolerance)
Many sufferers with ME/CFS say that PEM is the symptom that interferes with their lives probably the most. PEM isn’t all the time predictable, so it’s exhausting to plan actions. For instance, an individual with ME/CFS could possibly go to the grocery retailer with out issues on some days. However on others, the journey may confine them to mattress relaxation for a number of days after. Folks with ME/CFS may have ache, a sore throat, or flu-like signs.
What if an individual suspects ME/CFS?
Discuss to a health care provider. Solely a well being care supplier could make a prognosis. Since signs fluctuate, some sufferers discover it useful to maintain observe 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 assist somebody with ME/CFS?
ME/CFS impacts sufferers, households, and buddies. An important assist you may present is to grasp that the sickness is actual and has long-term penalties. The severity of ME/CFS varies by individual — for instance, some individuals can nonetheless work, however others are very sick and homebound.
The sickness also can fluctuate for a single affected person — generally she could seem “fantastic,” whereas different occasions, she could also be too unwell 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 individuals of each sexes can have the situation.
30s and 40s: Ages when the situation most frequently seems. However it can also have an effect on younger children, teenagers, and older adults.
$17 billion to $24 billion: Quantity in annual medical payments and misplaced revenue as a consequence of ME/CFS within the U.S.
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