Chronic fatigue syndrome (M.E.)
Much more serious than just wanting to sleep in all the time.
What is it?
- M.E. stands for myalgic encephalopathy, but chronic fatigue syndrome is probably a better description of the condition.
- It's believed to be a brain disorder that sometimes kicks in as a result of viral infection.
- The signs are numerous, and vary in intensity, but can combine to leave sufferers feeling wiped out for long periods (way beyond the common recovery time from a virus such as flu).
- 150,000 people in the UK are estimated to suffer from chronic fatigue syndromes such as M.E.
- It is possible to recover, though many sufferers find it hard to shake off, remaining housebound as a result.
The illness can include a range of symptoms, which often fluctuate from day to day. Here's what to look out for:
- Persistent fatigue
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short term memory problems
- Loss of appetite
- Irritable bowel
- Headaches and nausea
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Depression, often associated with problems at school/college/work as a result of the illness
M.E. is now recognised as a medical condition, but it is difficult to prove that you definitely have it, and no sure-fire cure exists. Instead, medical practitioners focus on treating individual symptoms. See your GP in the first instance, and discuss some of these popular therapies:
- Graded exercise: A slow, carefully planned and supervised programme to build up stamina has been very successful for many people. This is done in specialist centres, and there may be a long waiting list.
- Stress reduction: Look at your lifestyle, and tackle any activities or issues that leave you feeling strung out.
- Lifestyle modification: If possible, aim to strike a balance between work and rest.
- Acupuncture : Many people swear that getting needled improves wellbeing.
- Aromatherapy : May be effective for stress-related conditions, including depression.
- Homeopathy : Works on the principle that stimulating an illness will strengthen the body's power of recovery.
- Counselling can help you get to grips with the root of depression. Ask your doctor to recommend a psychotherapist or self-help group.
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