Chronic pain and exhaustion are not a joke, which is why we observe M.E. Awareness Week in May of every year, May 11—17 to be exact. Considering this is such a unique and commonly misunderstood disease, it is vital to educate people on the symptoms, treatment, and compassion they need for individuals suffering from this disease. In this article, you will learn more about this illness, discover ways to observe the day to show support, and learn about the history of the disease.
History of M.E. Awareness Week
ME Awareness Week is now 31 years, and it continues to honor the millions of people in the U.K. who have chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). Organizations like the ME Association, based in the U.K., make it their goal to support the ever-increasing number of cases.
Chronic fatigue syndrome or M.E. is a long-term, complex medical condition that is still not fully understood. Core symptoms of this illness include prolonged exacerbations or flare-ups after minor physical or mental activity, known as post-exertional malaise, greatly diminished ability to complete routine tasks before the sickness, and sleep disturbances. Difficulty in sitting and standing upright and cognitive dysfunction can also be used to diagnose the condition. However, M.E’s unexplained and frequently incapacitating fatigue differs from that caused by regular strenuous ongoing exertion, is not significantly relieved by rest, and is not the result of a previous medical condition. And because there is no confirmed diagnostic test available, the person’s symptoms are used to make a diagnosis.
While some people with M.E. recover or improve over time, others can become severely ill and disabled for an extended period. No therapies or medications are approved to treat the underlying cause of the illness; instead, treatment focuses on symptom relief. Work, school, and family activities are significantly reduced for the majority of sufferers for extended periods. Many people suffer from severely disabling chronic pain and report significant decreases in physical activity levels. The reported impairment is comparable to other exhausting medical conditions, such as late-stage Aids, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and end-stage kidney disease.
M.E. Awareness Week timeline
Doctors begin to record outbreaks of an unknown illness suspected to be cases of poliomyelitis.
The outbreak of illnesses at a London hospital includes ‘benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.’
The International Classification of Diseases sees benign myalgic encephalomyelitis as a disease.
The M.E. Association establishes M.E. Awareness Week in the U.K.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention launches a campaign to educate on M.E.
M.E. Awareness Week FAQs
What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?
This disease can be difficult to diagnose because no single cause has been identified and because many other conditions produce similar symptoms.
Can you overcome chronic fatigue syndrome?
There is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome at the moment. You must collaborate with your healthcare provider to find treatments that will benefit you. Counseling or support groups may be beneficial to some people.
How long does chronic fatigue syndrome last?
It can last at least six months and the fatigue gets worse with physical or mental activity but it doesn’t get better with rest.
How to Observe M.E. Awareness Week
Volunteer at a treatment center
Most hospitals and medical treatment institutions should have a special department to treat people with myalgic encephalomyelitis. Go volunteer and see how you can help alleviate someone’s pain in the best way possible.
Read up on the disease
This disease is still misunderstood. There are many different views and opinions, especially the uneducated public who view people suffering from it as being weak. Read up to avoid this ignorance.
Go for a check-up
If you feel tired or weak or not well-rested, it’s a great idea to go and see your doctor. This disease can creep up on you, and the best way to prepare is to know what it is and ensure that you do not have it.
5 Facts About Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
The causes vary
You can get ill from an infection caused by a virus or from substances you’ve been exposed to.
The symptoms can be misleading
These include trouble sleeping, a sore throat and headaches, joint pain, muscles, or belly area.
Treatment is very effective
This will include a graded exercise program that gradually incorporates walking, swimming, or cycling daily.
It is not considered contagious
Most people who have had close contact with M.E. patients have not developed the illness.
Anyone can get it
It is most common in children and teens, plus women in their late 40s and early 50s.
Why M.E. Awareness Week is Important
Awareness brings attention and understanding
People need to be educated on what exactly this disease is and how it impacts people. Having a special awareness week makes that possible.
The spotlight is put on those suffering
Many people with myalgic encephalomyelitis suffer in silence. They are often ashamed that people might think that they are not really sick because many people experience exhaustion and tiredness. This day puts an end to such misgivings.
Research can be funded through awareness
As awareness is created then more people will be willing to support the cause. Charity and fundraising drives will help medical professionals get to the bottom of this disease.
M.E. Awareness Week dates