Myalgic Encephalomyeltis (ME) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) 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. The main symptom is severe fatigue that lasts over six months and does not improve after rest. This fatigue can be accompanied by impaired concentration, short-term memory loss, headaches, mood swings, muscle and joint pain.
Any exertion, whether physical or mental, aggravates the symptoms. ME/CFS is very difficult to diagnose, as it shares symptoms with other infections which lead to fatigue. There is no cure, the prognosis differs from person to person, and recovery can take months or even years. Treatment includes light exercise, pain killers, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, antidepressants, and changes to daily routines. It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 people with ME in Ireland.