Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a real and often misunderstood disorder characterized by
- Severe flu-like fatigue and exertion intolerance
- Limited functional capacity
- Post exertional relapse or malaise
- Headaches, muscle or joint aches
- Dizziness or orthostatic intolerance
- Cognitive dysfunction or impairment
- Sleep disturbances
- Infection or allergy symptoms such as sore throat, tender lymph nodes, low grade fevers
Symptoms are Worsened by
Physical or emotional "Stress"
Certain types of activity
ME/CFS can effect all ages
ME/CFS typically has a distinct period of onset, striking men and women, young to middle aged, often during periods of additional stress (such as starting college, going abroad on a mission, or attending graduate school).
Researchers at DePaul University estimate that ME/CFS affects 4 out of every 1000 people in the United States, with 90% of these cases largely undiagnosed and untreated.
Common patient outcomes are severe and often permanent disabilities that strike at the prime of active life and prevent participation in school or work. The exact cause, natural history, and treatment of the illness is largely unknown. A large and growing body of published scientific evidence exists supporting dysfunction in the immune system, the central nervous system, aspects of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the autonomic nervous system, and a genetic risk of tendency to develop the disorder. Much more research is needed to identify disease pathophysiology and develop standardized tests and treatments.