Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia
This section covers Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia.
M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis/encephalopathy) is a chronic, fluctuating illness which can affect both the nervous and the immune systems. The most common symptoms include severe exhaustion, muscle pain and problems with concentration and memory. M.E. is also known as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and PVFS (post viral fatigue syndrome).
The worst affected sufferers can be bedbound for years and although many people do recover, the illness never really leaves them and they may suffer a relapse unless they take care of their general health and well-being.
There are thought to be around a quarter of a million people in the UK with M.E. Although the illness usually seems to occur between the mid twenties and mid forties a signficant proportion of sufferers are children or teenagers.
In many cases, but not all, the illness appears to start with a viral infection from which the sufferer effectively never recovers - hence the name PVFS. It also seems to occur frequently in temperamentally high-achievers who have pushed themselves for years to the detriment of their health. They often also have a long history of minor ailments and heavy antibiotic use.
After many years when M.E. sufferers were dismissed as hypochondriacs suffering from 'yuppie flu', the illness is finally gaining recognition in medical circles while new research suggests that people with ME or CFS may be genetically less able to cope with infections, trauma, injury etc than the general population.
Because M.E. sufferers have had so little help from the medical profession there are a number of very active self-help and support groups. In the UK check out Action for M.E. (www.afme.org.uk), the M.E. Association (www.meassociation.org.uk) and The 25% Group (www.25megroup.org)
NB Information on this site is not a substitute for medical advice and no liability can be assumed for its use.