What Is ME/CFS?

ME/CFS – Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a multi-system, neuro-immune based illness with factors that involve nearly every physiological system in the body. This includes energy production, cardiovascular, immune, neurological, CNS/nervous & gastrointestinal systems.

ME has been classified as a neurological disorder in the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases since 1969 (ICD 10 G93.3).

Symptoms of ME/CFS

Symptoms include overwhelming post-exertional fatigue from mental or physical activity; dysfunctional sleep; pain; problems with memory; sensitivity to light, touch and sound; problems with standing and balance; problems with body temperature and weight; and recurrent flu-like symptoms; that persist for at least six months in adults; or three months in children (Carruthers et al, 2003).

The key document for diagnosing ME/CFS is the Canadian Guidelines for Medical Practitioners, which was written by a consortium of worldwide renowned ME/CFS researchers and medical practitioners, published in 2003. This document provides a comprehensive analysis of symptoms, guidelines and a checklist for medical practitioners to make an accurate diagnosis. It is the accepted standard for diagnosis of ME/CFS in Australia and across the world.

What causes ME/CFS?

The cause of ME/CFS is a topic of much research and debate. Multiple factors may be simultaneously involved. ME/CFS can follow acute infection, such as glandular fever and upper respiratory infections; a flu-like illness; exposure to chemicals, environmental pollutants or heavy metals; immunisation; and severe physical trauma such as major surgery or a serious accident. Recent research is finding strong links with food malabsorption, food intolerance and gut dysbiosis.

ME/CFS frequently appears with other medical conditions, the most common being Fibromyalgia, a name given to a group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness felt in any area of the body (Arthritis Victoria, 2009); and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a name given to those whose low-level exposure to everyday chemicals (like perfumes and deodorants, cigarette smoke, car exhaust) cause headaches or trigger asthma (AESSRA, 2009). These conditions contribute to the deterioration of the quality of life for people with ME/CFS, and contribute to severity of ME/CFS symptoms.

Who gets ME/CFS?

ME/CFS affects men, women and children of all ages, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. The prevalence of ME/CFS is also a contentious topic. In the year 2002, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) attributed the prevalence of ME/CFS between 0.2% and 0.7% of the Australian population (RACP, 2002) which is over 180,000 people.

International studies conducted in recent years have put the prevalence of ME/CFS between 0.4% to 2.6% of the population (Jason, 2007) however varying definitions and classifications of ME/CFS have impacted on reporting and diagnosis of the condition. As awareness about ME/CFS among researchers, patients and health practitioners increases, prevalence statistics are also likely to be affected.

Support for ME/CFS

For many years, ME/CFS has been a misunderstood and often misdiagnosed condition. Dismissal of people with the condition as malingers or hypochondriac, having depression or other fatigue-related conditions has resulted in a culture of scepticism among the medical community, and inspired discontent to outright rejection of the medical system among patients. Poor understanding of the condition has resulted in many patients spending large amounts of money in desperation on drugs, specialists, programs and natural therapies that often promise much but deliver very little.

Something needs to change, this has been labelled as possibly the most disabling illness on earth, but there is little to no medical support for it as yet. New developments and physiological changes are being discovered, which is exciting, but cannot come fast enough for so many of us that are completely incapacitated.
Click for My Story: | Part 1 | Part 2: 7 Weeks in Hospital | Part 3: Heart & ER | Part 4: Hospital Again – No Answers | Part 5: Long overdue update! 2012-2017

2 Responses to “What Is ME/CFS?”

  1. There is lots of medical evidence,alternatively speaking, about CFS, fibromyalgia and candida/yeast overgrowth.Google Doug Kauffman, and his series of books titled,The Fungus Link.He has done EXTENSIVE research on this subject! for DECADES! If overgrowth is severe, and yours very well may be,you just need something simple like an anti-fungal to start the candida die-off process. You really have nothing to loose at this point Chris, you have taken everything under the sun. As the anti-fungal kills off the candida, the salt water can flush them out.Then you can start on getting that deadly mercury out of your system. I know my posts may sound crazy , but I have experienced a complete and thorough cleansing just with the salt water flushes, but I have never been on antibiotics except for a bad tooth, nor for any length of time, I have NEVER taken them as prescribed, when the pain and/or swelling goes away, that is it. Drugs are excellent when used only as needed, for me, ONLY pain and in dire emergencies, such as yours IS!There is good reason why it is said that “We are the salt of the Earth”. We need it in order to live a disease free life, in the form of an alkaline being.

    • Yeap, ive been struggling with candida for many years and trying to treat it. Firstly, cant do a low carb diet, which is often a way it is controlled. Second, cant tolerate tne strong antifungals such as diflucan and sporanox, as they are very hard on the liver and make me tremendously ill (and its not die off, its liver toxicity from the drugs). Third, nystatin or anything that doesnt go systemic, barely helps if at all unfortunately. Ive not found anything therefore to help candida long term. I did feel amazing years ago after 3 days of diflucan. On the days i felt so nauseous and toxic I couldnt eat a thing, amd felt like death. Stopped it, but then woke up feeling tremendous, with mental clarity, energy like nothing before, and pretty much no pain. It was miraculous. However again the toxic effects were so bad I could not keep going. I truly wish I could tolerate it! Or find something equal without those effects.

      As for salt water, I used to drink tons of it before adrenal insufficiency to try to keep myself upright. It helped alot but eventually made me feel “too salty” like irritated linings and cracked lips etc. I still use himalayan sea salt or celtic in plenty on food now though. Just cant drink loads. Ive heard of Doug K, will check out his info more. Thanks again. C.

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