What is myalgic encephalomyelitis and what are the myalgic encephalomyelitis symptoms? Otherwise known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis is a condition causing extreme mental and physical tiredness above and beyond what you might expect to feel at the end of a tough week.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis can affect people of any age or sex, but seems to be more common in women aged between 40 and 50. The condition varies in severity a great deal. Some people are able to continue with normal life, albeit with a few concessions to allow adequate rest, whereas others become completely housebound and unable to do anything for months or even years.
What are the myalgic encephalomyelitis symptoms?
ME symptoms do not appear overnight. Most people experience a gradual onset of symptoms over the cause of several months and as the condition worsens, normal activities become more and more difficult. What might have once been an easy level of exertion soon becomes an impossible task, and one which leaves you exhausted for more than 24 hours.
The main symptom of ME is extreme tiredness. Unlike the type of tiredness you might feel following a few nights of interrupted sleep, the fatigue experienced by sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome can leave the person feeling utterly drained and unable to function. But whereas a healthy person would have an early night and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, an ME patient could spend a week in bed resting and still feel no better. Normal everyday activities can become impossible with ME and even a simple activity such as walking downstairs will leave the person feeling completely exhausted.
As well as constant fatigue, ME causes a gradual deterioration in general health and most patients will also experience a range of other symptoms as their condition progresses.
Symptoms of myalgic encephalomyelitis include the following:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Cognitive problems including confusion, memory problems, and poor concentration
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Painful glands
- Unexplained headaches
- Swollen and painful glands in the neck and armpits
- Pins and needles
- Mouth ulcers
- Sleep problems
- Depression and mood swings
- Digestive problems
However, this is not an exhaustive list and some people will experience other symptoms as well as some of those listed.
How is chronic fatigue syndrome treated?
ME is a difficult condition to diagnose and treatment will normally aim to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Medication such as paracetamol can help to reduce the physical aches and pains while antidepressants will alleviate any symptoms of depression.
In many cases there are various types of self-help techniques that can alleviate the problems faced by those suffering from ME. Making lifestyle changes that include adequate rest intervals can help the person continue with some of their normal activities, or at least find a level of everyday exertion that they can manage.
Other possible avenues of treatment for those suffering from the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, and relaxation therapy, plus homeopathic remedies can sometimes help.