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5 Things You Need to Know About ME/CFS

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is a complicated illness that often leaves people with the condition unable to conduct their typical day-to-day duties.

ME/CFS is often misunderstood. Many people believe that the impacts of ME/CFS are exaggerated because there are no precise tests to verify the condition through diagnostic examinations. However, those who suffer from the condition know that just because the tests don’t yet exist, that doesn’t mean the ailment is not real.

The debilitation people with ME/CFS suffer is very real and should not be downplayed.

In addition, here are five details you should know about ME/CFS:

#1 - An ME/CFS crash can be both mental and physical.

When someone with ME/CFS experiences a slump, the impacts can be felt mentally, physically, or a combination of the two. The following are the “core” symptoms experienced by those with the condition:

  • Significantly reduced ability to conduct daily activities.
    • The reduction in activity levels is accompanied by fatigue that is much more severe than simply being tired. Fatigue due to ME/CFS:
      • Is often severe,
      • Does not arise due to uncommonly challenging activity,
      • Cannot be relieved by sleeping or resting, and
      • Has not been an issue for the individual’s entire life.
  • Exacerbated ME/CFS symptoms following physical or mental tasks that would not have been an issue before the illness.
    • This symptom is known as post-exertional malaise (PEM). This symptom is often described as a:
      • Crash
      • Relapse
      • Collapse
    • When PEM occurs, ME/CFS impacts may worsen or suddenly arise, including:
      • Thinking difficulties
      • Sleep issues
      • Sore throat
      • Headaches
      • Dizziness
      • Severe exhaustion
    • When someone with the condition experiences a crash, it can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks to fully recover. Those with the ailment can be house-bound or fully bed-bound during a collapse. Sometimes people with ME/CFS can’t anticipate what will cause a collapse or the length of time it will take to recede.
  • Issues with sleep.
    • A person with ME/CFS may not feel well-rested or less exhausted after a full night of sleep. It is also possible for people with the condition to have difficulties falling or staying asleep.

#2 - All three of the “core” symptoms must exist to be diagnosed with ME/CFS.

The aforementioned “core” symptoms must all exist in order for a person to receive an ME/CFS diagnosis. In addition, one of the two following additional symptoms must be present for diagnosis:

  • Challenges thinking and remembering.
    • It is common for people with the condition to experience difficulties thinking quickly, recalling memories, and being detail-oriented. This symptom is known as “brain fog.”
  • The symptoms are exacerbated while standing or sitting upright.
    • Referred to as orthostatic intolerance, the symptoms include:
      • Lightheadedness
      • Dizziness
      • Weakness
      • Fainting while sitting upright or standing
      • Changing vision, such as blurring or seeing spots

#3 - We don’t know what causes ME/CFS.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the medical community regarding the causes of ME/CFS. However, the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently studying the following possible causes of the condition:

  • Infections
  • Changes in the immune system
  • Stress that impacts body chemistry
  • Energy production changes
  • Possible genetic links

#4 - ME/CFS is not a mental illness.

People unfamiliar with the condition often believe that it is a mental ailment that can be improved using psychological treatment—which is not the case at all. In fact, increasingly, studies have shown that ME/CFS is a biological disease characterized by a wide range of complicated warning signs.

#5 - ME/CFS can shorten a person’s lifespan.

Some studies show that ME/CFS has the potential to shorten the lifespans of those affected by the disease. Compared to the overall U.S. population, people with ME/CFS are:

  • More likely to die earlier than average for all causes (population mean age = 55.9 years)
    • U.S. national average = 73.5 years
  • More likely to die earlier than average for cardiovascular-related events (population mean age = 58.8 years)
    • U.S. national average = 77.7 years
  • More likely to take their lives at a younger age (population mean age = 41.3 years)
    • U.S. national average = 47.4 years
  • More likely to die earlier than average due to cancer (population mean age = 66.3 years)
    • U.S. national average = 71.1 years

Unfortunately, ME/CFS has far-reaching effects that are not widely understood (even within the medical community). However, the impacts of the disease are very real and are often debilitating.

To learn more about the disease, check out some of our other articles:

If you suffer from ME/CFS, it’s important that you receive the long-term disability benefits you need to live your life comfortably. Our team wants to do everything possible to see that you get the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office right away with any questions you may have.

Call Dabdoub Law Firmtoday at (800) 969-0488 to speak with an experienced attorney about your case.