Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ME
ME also called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition that causes mared long-term fatigue and other symptons (which are not caused by any other known medical condition)
However, there is a controversy about the nature of this condition. There is no test to diagnose the condition . The diagnosis is made in people who have a certain set of symptoms ( which can vary in their type and severity). The term CFS is often used by doctors. This is because the main symptom is often fatigue and the condition is chronic (persistent). ME can affect anyone. The precise number of people affected is not known. It is estimated that ME affects about 1 in 300 people in the UK, possibly more. It is about twice as common in women than in men. The commonest age it develops is 13-15, but it can develop at and earlier age.
What are the symptoms of ME?
Fatigue The most common main symptom is persistent fatigue(tiredness). The fatigue is of new onset. It is often felt to be both physical and mental fatigue, and said to be "overwhelming" or to be "like no other type of fatigue"
- It is very different to everyday tiredness(such as after a day's work)
- It is not eased much by rest
- It is not due to, or like tiredness following over exertion
- It is not due to muscle weakness
- It is not loss of motivation or pleasure which occurs in people who are depressed
- The fatigue is often made worse by activity. This is called "post-exertional malaise". However, the post-exertional malaise may not develop for several hours or more following the activity. It may even develop the following day. [b]Other Symptoms[/b] In addition to fatigue, one or more of the following symptoms are common(but most people do not have them all). In some cases, one on of the following symptoms is more dominant than the fatigue and is the main symptom.
- Mental("Cognitive") difficulties such poor concentration, reduced attention span, poor memory for recent events, difficulty to plan or organise your thoughts, difficulty "finding the right words" to say, sometimes feeling disorientated.
- Sleeping difficulties. For example early waking, unable to sleep, too much sleep, disrupted sleep/wake patterns.
- Pains - most commonly muscular pains(myalgia), joint pains, and headaches.
- Recurring sore throat often with tenderness of the nearby lymph glands
- Intolerances and sensitivities to foods, alcohol,noise and bright light
- Gut symptoms similar to those that occur in "irritable bowel syndrome" For example, excess, wind, bloating, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, abdominal pains, nausea(feeling sick)
- A range of other symptoms have been reported in some cases such as dizziness, excess sweating, difficulties with balance, and disordered temparature control of the body
- Treating Associated Symptoms Depression is quite common in people with ME. Depression can make many symptoms worse. Antidepressants may be prescribed if depression develops and may help to ease some of the symptoms( For example, pain, poor sleep). Pain killers may help if muscle or joint pains are troublesome symptoms. Prognosis for people with ME In most cases, the condition has a fluctuating course. There may be times when symptoms are not too bad, and times when symptoms flare up and becomes worse. The long-term outlook is variable. Most people with ME will show some improvement over time, especially with treatment. Some people recover in less than two years. However, health and functioning rarely return completely to previous levels. Most people who recover stablise at a lower level of functioning than that before their illness.
In some cases the condition is severe and /or presists for many years. Those who have been affected for several years seem less likely to recover.Supporting Students With ME Students with ME will have interrupted schooling and will need relevant work sent home will need rest breaks in tests and exams will possibly require up to 25% extra time in tests and exams will possibly benefit from contact with the key teachers via school email system will require work to be in small manageable chunks
Action for ME
Association of Young People With ME
Permission from Nuruddin Boateng who compiled this for the Learning Support Unit of Brakenhale School, Bracknell, UK