If you, or someone you know, have experienced severe fatigue and sleep problems, you might be familiar with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). This serious, long-term illness affects up to 2.5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD).
ME/CFS International Awareness Day is observed every May 12 to help raise awareness about its symptoms and possible solutions. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affects the body’s immunological, neurological, cognitive, autonomic, and energy production systems. It can distress daily activities and even prevent people from working. Also, kids with the syndrome often show challenges with schoolwork.
Some of the symptoms include fatigue, problems with memory or concentration, and sore throat. Also, headaches, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpits, inexplicable muscle or joint pain, dizziness that worsens with moving from lying down or sitting to standing are common signs of the disorder long with unrefreshing sleep and extreme exhaustion after physical or mental exercise.
Today, May 12, you can help raise awareness about “fatigue syndrome” with these 3 steps.
- Educate yourself: It can be challenging to go to school or keep up with work when suffering from ME/CFS. By learning as much as you can about ME/CFS you can appropriately give a hand to those affected by the illness. The following links provide information about support available to people with ME/CFS and caregivers.
- U.S. Department of Labor for job accommodations
- Be supportive: ME/CFS is considered an “invisible” illness, usually misunderstood. People affected by the disease can develop a loss of self-esteem due to a lack of productivity and difficulty engaging in everyday activities. Listen to them and make the best to adopt behaviors that avoid comparisons, substitute activities that generate overexertion, and help accommodate new realities.
- Be inclusive: Although social activities might be challenging for children and adults with ME/CFS, socializing is essential for their well-being. Encourage your loved ones to participate in activities with friends and families that can entice them to get out and enjoy life. Always keep in mind that Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM) is a typical symptom that can occur after minor physical or mental efforts, so any activity needs precaution.
The cause of ME/CFS is unknown. However, experts sustain that many factors, such as viral infections, immune system issues, hormonal imbalances, and physical or emotional trauma, can trigger the syndrome. Additionally, age and sex also play a role in the development of the disease. The Mayo Clinic said that chronic fatigue syndrome most commonly affects young to middle-aged adults, while women more often than men get diagnosed.
As part of the 5th Annual Advocacy Week, which took place between April 18-24, 2021, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “The lasting effects being experienced by many COVID-19 patients are indicative of ME/CFS.”
“There is no question there are a considerable number of individuals who have a post-viral syndrome that in many respects can incapacitate them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery and clearing of the virus…. They [People] have things that are highly suggestive of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: brain fog, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. This is something we really need to look at.”
Did you know that:
- 25–35% of COVID-19 patients experience long-term effects of ME/CFS?
- 2.5 million new cases of ME/CFS will be caused by the pandemic?
- $4 trillion impacts to the U.S. economy is predicted over the next decade?
Take some time today to help raise awareness about “ME/CFS. It’s an excellent time to encourage anyone suffering from ME/CFS to take a nap, use a vacation day, or simply take a break for the day.