Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)

 

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a variable condition that can affect people of all age groups and socio-economic backgrounds. CFS is also known as ME, which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. Many people refer to the condition as CFS/ME.

The main symptom of CFS/ME is a feeling of unusual tiredness that is characteristically made much worse after any activity and is not substantially alleviated by rest. The fatigue is usually both physical and mental and has a fluctuating pattern.

The mental fatigue leads to difficulty in concentrating or doing more than one task at a time and slips of the tongue and difficulty finding the correct words. Both types of fatigue will significantly affect how people manage normal everyday activities. There may be good and bad days but characteristically any undue exertion has to be ‘paid for’ later.

Common symptoms can include aching in the muscles or joints, which become tender to touch, muscle twitching, recurrent sore throats, feeling hot and cold, sweats, mild fever and painful neck glands. Headaches and dizziness are also common and there may be increased sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights. Some people have visual disturbances with blurred vision at times, although their eyes appear normal when an optician tests their vision.

People with CFS/ME can often feel isolated because, although debilitated, they often look outwardly well and may worry that other people think they are pretending to be unwell.

More on what we do

Many symptoms of CFS/ME are not visible, for example fatigue and aching in the muscles or joints, so people with CFS/ME often experience a range of symptoms that may not obvious to others. In addition, the condition is variable, and due to the nature of payback fatigue, a person with CFS/ME may be able to do a task one day but not be able to do the same task the next day, or days, following this exertion.

People with CFS/ME will aim to manage their symptoms as best they can in order to alleviate the impact that their health has on their everyday lives. It is important to note that being diagnosed with CFS/ME does not alter the person's knowledge or skills. Therefore, time and resources spent in making any helpful adaptations will be worthwhile.

Treatments

The RD&E CFS/ME service is currently offering virtual assessments and support via telephone and video calls. The team offers a combination of one-to-one treatments and group interventions to help give people the tools to manage their condition.

The team uses a combination of approaches, specialising in activity management, relaxation, techniques for rest, advice on sleep, diet, thoughts and feelings, memory and concentration, and communication about your condition eg, to friends/family or employers.

Our team

The team currently consists of specialist Occupational Therapists. We also offer support to other professionals to understand CFS/ME as well as utilizing the skills of other professions, to support our patients.

You may have been signposted to these services from a healthcare professional. Below, under Videos, are two resources to help you understand the condition of CFS further with discussion around management strategies. Please take the opportunity to look at these and discuss further with those involved with your care.

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