M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, is a chronic, disabling illness, which can affect both adults and children. It is currently estimated that there are over 250,000 sufferers throughout the U.K., and around 25,000 of these are children.
After many years of controversy surrounding this illness, the World Health Organisation now classifies M.E. as a neurological illness. It is commonly triggered by a viral infection and anyone, regardless of age, sex or ethnic background can develop the illness.
The symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common ones are:
– Profound, lasting fatigue, which does not improve with rest
– Severe joint and muscle pain
– Persistent headaches
– Impaired memory and concentration
– Sore throat, and/or enlarged lymph glands
– Abdominal pain and/or nausea
– Disturbed sleep pattern
– Poor temperature regulation
– Sensitivity to light and noise
There is no known cure for M.E., although an early diagnosis, adequate rest in the early stages and effective advice on the management of the illness can significantly improve the chances of a full recovery. M.E. can last between a few months and many years. Only twenty percent of sufferers are likely to make a full recovery in two to four years. Of the remaining group, around 60% improve significantly over time, whilst 20% become chronically and severely disabled.
Most people affected by M.E. are unable to work, having had to give up after the onset of the illness, and become reliant on whatever state benefits they can claim. Sadly, due to the ongoing misunderstanding and disbelief surrounding the illness, many sufferers do not receive the level of benefits they are entitled to, and endure financial hardship as a result.