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What is myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome?

Myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome are referred to as post-exercise fatigue (PEM), which is an increase in symptoms and a decrease in function after minimal physical or mental activity.

What is myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)?​

Myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex and disabling disease. It has been classified as a neurological disorder by the World Health Organization, although it affects many parts of the body, including the brain, muscles, digestive, immune and heart systems.

The term “myalgic encephalomyelitis” refers to pain in the muscles and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Scientists are beginning to understand some of the biological changes in the bodies of people with ME/CFS, but have yet to figure out how to prevent or treat it.

Research has found that ME/CFS is associated with problems including:

  • The body’s ability to produce energy at the cellular level
  • Immune, neurological and hormonal systems
  • Blood pressure and heart rate regulation
  • Digestive Compatibility
  • Cognition – how quickly information is processed

ME/CFS affects men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. 75-80% of people with the disease are women.

What causes myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome?​

Although researchers have identified many biological abnormalities in people living with the disease, we do not yet know why. For some people, the disease can be triggered suddenly by trauma such as an infection, toxic exposure, anesthesia, vaccination, or a car accident. In other people, ME/CFS may develop gradually over months or years.

Research clearly shows that myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome are biological diseases and are not caused by lack of fitness or mental health problems.

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