ME - the facts: What is ME?
According to the Irish ME Trust, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a complex and debilitating physiological illness involving neurological and endocrinal dysfunction and immune system dysregulation which is not improved by bed rest and can worsen with physical or mental exertion.
Sufferers may also complain of many other related symptoms such as fever, sore throats, painful glands, muscle weakness, headaches, joint pains, sleep disturbance, confusion, irritability and poor concentration.
Symptoms of ME: Sufferers are overwhelmed by fatigue and muscular weakness, particularly after moderate exercise. They are lethargic and unable to concentrate. They have mood swings, and may be irritable and encounter sleep pattern disorders. They shiver one minute and sweat profusely the next. Their muscles ache and are sore to touch. They feel as if they have a permanent flu. Headaches, joint pains, bowel problems, sore throats and swollen glands are among the many bewildering symptoms. Sufferers want to get going, and are frustrated to find the body unable to respond. Any exertion, whether physical or mental, will most likely worsen the symptoms. Thus, any effort exerted towards regaining a normal life is punished by an aggravation of the very symptoms from which a sufferer wants to escape.
What causes ME: Research has yet to come up with a definitive reason for the onset of ME. Many ME sufferers will pin point a viral infection as the start of their illness, although no particular virus is present in all cases. One theory is that the breakdown in the body's defence mechanism allows viral infection to occur more easily. Food allergy or intolerance may also play a part.