Mid adult woman looking tired

More than 1 million Americans have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). While researchers tie it to issues involving the brain, immune system, and power metabolism, the causes of the sickness and a treatment stay undiscovered. Dana J. Brimmer, PhD, a visiting scientist on the CDC, explains what docs do know.

Q: What is that this illness?

Brimmer: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a critical, long-term sickness that may radically alter sufferers’ lives and final for years. People with ME/CFS usually have [symptoms that include moderate, severe, and substantial] pain, [debilitating] fatigue, and sleep issues.

While there isn’t any treatment, a prognosis will help sufferers and households by giving them a greater understanding of ME/CFS and data about managing signs. In addition, [the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)] now offers docs the steerage they should consider and handle the situation.

What are the signs?

According to the [NAS], ME/CFS has 5 most important signs:

  • A big drop in capability to carry out an individual’s traditional actions that lasts for greater than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue
  • Symptoms that worsen after doing bodily or psychological actions that might have been “traditional” earlier than they grew to become sick (also called post-exertional malaise, or PEM)
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Difficulty considering, processing data, or concentrating
  • Symptoms 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 essentially the most. PEM will not be all the time predictable, so it’s laborious to plan actions. For instance, an individual with ME/CFS could possibly go to the grocery retailer with out issues on some days. But on others, the journey might confine them to mattress relaxation for a number of days after. People with ME/CFS might also have ache, a sore throat, or flu-like signs.

What if an individual suspects ME/CFS?

Talk to a health care provider. Only a health care supplier could make a prognosis. Since signs differ, some sufferers discover it useful to maintain observe of signs and produce an inventory to the primary appointment. People can discover details about ME/CFS on the web sites of the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

How can I help somebody with ME/CFS?

ME/CFS impacts sufferers, households, and pals. The most necessary help you possibly can present is to know that the sickness is actual and has long-term penalties. The severity of ME/CFS varies by individual — for instance, some folks can nonetheless work, however others are very sick and homebound.

The sickness also can differ for a single affected person — typically she could seem “high quality,” whereas different occasions, she could also be too sick to do regular actions. Try to know these ups and downs, and ask what you are able to do to assist.

By the Numbers

2x: Number of girls 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 can also have an effect on younger youngsters, teens, and older adults.

$17 billion to $24 billion: Amount in annual medical payments and misplaced earnings attributable to ME/CFS within the U.S.

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