12 Facts on M.E / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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I'm sharing 12 quick facts about this debilitating chronic illness that is affecting millions in the world yet is not spoken about nor understood enough about. M.E is estimated to affect 250,000 people in the UK – including children and adolescents. M.E has a unique and defining feature known as post-exertional malaise – a delayed exacerbation of symptoms which follows even a minor mental or physical exertion. M.E is classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a neurological disease. Researchers of M.E have found significant abnormalities in the central nervous system, immune system, endocrine system and muscle tissue. The NICE clinical guideline for M.E / CFS is currently being re-written amidst complaints about it being unfit for purpose. The revised NICE guideline will be published in October 2020. There is no medical test for M.E / CFS. It is currently a diagnosis of exclusion, once all other possible causes of symptoms are eliminated. Researchers at Stanford University are currently working on a blood test to diagnose M.E. The test, in early pilot phases, measures how a person’s immune system responds to stress. Around 25% of M.E sufferers are severely affected; they can be housebound or bedbound, and often require a wheelchair to mobilise. In most cases, M.E can be linked to a viral infection from which people do not seem to be able to recover. M.E is a fluctuating condition; the symptoms can vary in form and intensity throughout the day, from week to week. There is no curative treatment of M.E – although several drugs are being assessed in clinical trials. M.E is more common than Multiple Sclerosis, yet little to no funding is given by the NHS. My aim is to bring awareness about this particular condition and exploring routes for recovery with my clients in clinic. Here are my 3 main tips when battling with M.E / CFS...

What You'll Need

  • Patience, Understanding, Belief

What You'll Do

  • Pace your recovery: when battling a chronic illness such as M.E / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the nature of your symptoms can feel like a rollercoaster ride (up and down all the time). Particularly when it comes to your energy levels, you really need to look at how much you take on within any given day. I like to think of our daily energy levels as a form of currency. I use the anaolgy that if we have £10 to spend of energy each and every day, we want to avoid going over our budget. In CFS if we spend £12 of our energy currency (i.e. if we go over our limits) we may suffer post-exertional malaise the following day. This is why it is so important to ration your energy and always spend less than your limits (e.g £8 a day instead of £10). If we do less than our limits, we can conserve ourselves and build our resilience.
  • Remove foods high in refined sugars: when battling with chronic fatigue it is important to remove foods that spike insulin levels. This is because insulin can cause blood sugar imbalances and leave us feeling sluggish, tired and anxious during the day, leading to cravings for high-sugar snacks in order to function. Caffeine can also act in a similar way and put a strain on the central nervous system, which is particularly affected for those with CFS.
  • 3. Talk to someone: it is so crucial to have a trusted friend or relative that can empathise with your illness. Having valued and supportive friends around you and talking to them about your struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome can be so powerful in removing any stigma and them understanding the fluctuating nature of your illness. Keep people around you that fill you up and make you smile!
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