The Sun: 5 signs your constant tiredness is actually chronic fatigue syndrome – as 90% of cases are missed | 15 August 2019


Lucy Jones, Digital Health & Fitness Reporter, 14 August, 2019.

THE hamster wheel of life  – work, eat, sleep, repeat – can leave many people feeling as though they’re constantly exhausted.

And according to a recent study, the average Brit spends more than seven-and-a-half years of their lifetime feeling overtired.

However, there’s a chance that this tiredness could be a sign of a bigger problem, with extreme exhaustion not just being down to reducing stress at work or getting those much-needed zzzzzs in.

It could be down to chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which is a complex disorder characterised by ongoing, debilitating tiredness.

Here, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patient.info, talks The Sun through the main signs your exhaustion could actually be a symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome – as experts warn 90 per cent of cases go undiagnosed.

1. Tired to your bones

The main symptoms is tiredness, but the fatigue patients experience is completely different to ‘normal’ tiredness. It’s not like the tiredness you get when you overdo it – it is often a total exhaustion of every muscle in your body.

2. Sleep don’t work

Normally, a good night’s sleep can leave you feeling raring to go. But if you have M.E, rest doesn’t relieve the tiredness at all.

3. Exercise leaves you exhausted

Many people who feel tired (for instance in cancer-related tiredness) find that regular exercise increases their energy levels. If you have M.E, too much activity can often leave you with crushing exhaustion. In severe cases, even walking round the corner to the shops can feel like climbing a mountain.

4. Muscle pain

People with M.E also have pains in their muscles and joints.

If you have been diagnosed with other achy conditions such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, but your current treatment isn’t giving you relief, it’s worth talking to your doctor about chronic fatigue syndrome.

5. Trouble concentrating

M.E is about much more than tiredness. People with M.E often find their mental sharpness is severely affected. They may have problems concentrating, poor short term memory and difficulty sleeping – it feels as if they have constant ‘brain fog’.

More than 90 per cent of patients with ME complain of cognitive issues such as slow thinking, trouble comprehending what they’re reading, impaired memory, or generally feeling like they’re stuck with brain fog. Depression is also common.

Other warning signs

And if all this wasn’t enough, Dr Sarah adds that ME often comes with other symptoms, such as dizziness, feeling sick and palpitations.

Dr Charles Shepherd, from the ME Association, told The Sun that despite these symptoms, ME is an “invisible illness” and people with ME might not necessarily look ill.

He said: “When you see people with ME, they might not always look ill, but when symptoms flare, the effects are obvious.

“It can feel like a constant flu, the smallest exertion can floor sufferers, bodies are painfully sore, restful sleep is elusive, light and noise are intolerable, and ‘brain fog’ causes confusion.

“ME remains a hidden disease. There is no known cure and no effective treatment – and it can lead to greater functional impairment than multiple sclerosis or cancer.

“People find it hard to understand, with the medical advancements, how something like this can happen in this day and age.”

Action for ME Chief Executive, Sonya Chowdhury, also emphasised that not everyone who has ME experiences the same symptoms – so not to compare yourself to someone else with the condition.

She said: “People with ME experience debilitating pain, fatigue and a range of other fluctuating symptoms associated with post-exertional malaise, which is the body and brain’s inability to recover after expending even small amounts of energy.

“Not everyone will experience the same symptoms so it’s important not to compare someone who has ME to another person who has the illness. People with ME can vary enormously in their experience of the illness, and also how long their symptoms last.

“Anyone who has concerns they may have the condition should speak to their GP in the first instance.

“Many people find it helpful to produce a diary or timeline, detailing their symptoms and how they fluctuate. Action for ME has a number of resources people may find helpful to learn more about the condition or to prepare for a GP appointment.”

Chronic fatigue syndrome specialist Leonard A. Jason, Ph.D., professor of psychology at DePaul University, Chicago even told Cosmopolitan that 90 per cent of cases of chronic fatigue go undiagnosed.

Given this shocking statistic if you feel as though the symptoms apply to you, check in with a doctor who can rule out other illnesses and help to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Image credit: 123RF/comzeal

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