Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a severe, complex, acquired condition with numerous symptoms related mainly to the dysfunction of the brain, and the gastrointestinal, immune, endocrine and cardiac systems. It affects people of all ages, ethnic and socio-economic groups. It affects more women than men.
Main symptoms of ME/CFS
- Fatigue – persistent or recurring, unexplained mental and physical fatigue which substantially reduces normal activity levels
- Post-exertional malaise – following physical and mental exertion there is a worsening of symptoms which may be delayed 24 hours or more and recovery after activity is slow
- Dysfunctional sleep – unrefreshing sleep, inability to fall asleep, excessive sleep, frequent awakenings, restless legs, abnormal sleep rhythms
- Pain – burning, aching and shooting pain in muscles and/or joints, headaches of a new type and severity, widespread tenderness
- Cognitive problems – brain ‘fog’, problems with processing and recalling information, difficulty with finding the right word, reading, writing, mathematics and short-term memory, losing track of things, forgetting names, disorientation, inability to concentrate on more than one thing, trouble with decision-making
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic muscle pain condition with very similar symptoms to those of ME/CFS. The illnesses can overlap and some people are diagnosed with both.
Main symptoms of Fibromyalgia Syndrome
- Widespread muscle pain – the pain is in all four quadrants of the body (upper, lower, left and right) but is often worst in the back and neck – headaches can be severe and joints may feel painful too.
- Aching and stiffness – especially on getting out of bed in the morning
- Dysfunctional sleep
- Malaise – ‘fluey’, ill feelings
- Cognitive problems such as brain ‘fog’
- Irritable bowel and other gastrointestinal symptoms
- Burning, tingling sensations (parasthesias)