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Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    19th Aug, 2022

Context

Recently, a woman from Bengaluru has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court to stop her Noida-based friend, who has been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since 2014, from travelling to Europe to undergo a physician-assisted euthanasia.

About

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS).
  • According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is a serious and debilitating disease that affects the nervous system, the immune system and the body’s production of energy.

Causes of ME/CFS

It's not known what causes ME/CFS, but there are a number of theories – for example, it may be triggered by an infection, or certain factors could make you more likely to develop the illness.

Suggested causes or triggers for ME/CFS include:

  • viral infections, such as glandular fever
  • bacterial infections, such as pneumonia
  • problems with the immune system
  • a hormone imbalance
  • genes – ME/CFS seems to be more common in some families

Diagnosis: There is no specific test for the disease, and doctors have to rely on medical examinations, blood and urine tests. ME/CFS can affect anyone, from children to adults of all ages. 

Symptoms:

  • The biggest telltale symptom is a significantly lowered ability to do activities that were performed before the illness.
  • The fatigue is not relieved by sleep or rest and exercising usually makes the symptoms worse.
  • Other symptoms include trouble sleeping, difficulty in thinking, memory retention and concentration, dizziness/lightheadedness, headaches, muscle pain, joint ache, flu-like symptoms, tender lymph nodes and digestive issues.
  • The most recognizable symptom is post-exertional malaise (PEM).
  • Patients often describe it as a “crash” in physical/mental energy following even minor activities like grocery shopping or brushing teeth.

Treatment:

  • As of yet, there is no specific cure or approved treatment. Instead, doctors recommend ways to deal with the symptoms of the disease.
  • Treatments include:
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • energy management
  • medicine to control symptoms such as pain and sleeping problems
  • Some people with ME/CFS will improve over time, especially with treatment.
  • Many people with ME/CFS will need to adapt their daily routine and pattern of activities on a long-term basis. There may be periods when your symptoms get better or worse.

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