What is chronic fatigue/ME?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) describes the long-term illness, the main symptom of which is extreme tiredness. CFS/ME can affect individuals of any age or gender, but it is more commonly diagnosed in women rather than men and tends to develop between your mid-twenties and mid-forties. The symptoms of CFS/ME can differ in severity from day to day, or even within a day.
What causes CFS/ME?
There is no main cause for chronic fatigue, but it is thought to be triggered by a viral or bacterial infection, problems with your immune system or a hormone imbalance, mental health problems such as depression, or genetics passing it down through your family. Certain factors like these could make you more susceptible to developing chronic fatigue.
Living with CFS/ME
Individuals living with CFS/ME will find that their day to day life can be affected by the symptoms of chronic fatigue, which include:
- sleep problems
- muscle or joint pain
- a sore throat or sore glands without being swollen
- problems thinking, remembering or concentrating
- flu-like symptoms
- feeling dizzy or sick
- fast or irregular heartbeats/palpitations
Treatment and diagnosis
Although there is no specific test to diagnose chronic fatigue, it’s important to check your symptoms to see if they match with the symptoms of CFS/ME. If they don’t improve over time, a diagnosis of chronic fatigue may be considered, and a blood or urine test could also be carried out, as well as a check of your medical history. Once diagnosed with chronic fatigue, your treatment will differ depending on the condition affects you; this could be through cognitive behavioural therapy, graded exercise therapy or medication to control any pain, nausea or sleeping problems you may be facing. Chronic fatigue can be life-long for some individuals, but in some cases, children and young people are more likely to fully recover.
A symptom of chronic fatigue can often be sore and aching muscles or joints, something which can be helped massively by heated products like a hot water bottle or heated back warmer. To relieve further aches, a product like a bed wedge can help to improve your posture when lying or sitting down, helping you to be more comfortable, whilst a wool blanket can provide emotional and physical comfort if you’re feeling trained. Another symptom of chronic fatigue can be difficulty thinking, remembering or concentrating, so a product like a whiteboard week planner is great for reminding you of your daily activities and tasks.