12 May has been designated as International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND) since 1992. The CIND illnesses include Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM).
May 12th is the birthday of nurse Florence Nightingale, who lived with a debilitating illness resembling ME or fibromyalgia. She achieved great things despite her struggle with severe fatigue, and the day has been designated an international awareness day for these conditions and other chronic immunological and neurological diseases.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is a serious long-term and disabling illness. People living with ME/CFS experience overwhelming fatigue, sleep problems, pain and dizziness. Even minor physical, mental and emotional effort can make symptoms much worse. (a phenomenon known as post-exertional malaise).
Researchers have not discovered the cause of ME/CFS, and there are no laboratory tests to diagnose it directly. The illness is often diagnosed after an in-depth evaluation of a person’s symptoms and medical history.
There is no cure for ME/CFS, but the symptoms can be treated or managed carefully to improve quality of life. Treatments include physical and occupational therapy, counselling and lifestyle changes such as dietary adjustments, exercising, managing stress and sleep hygiene.
FIND OUT MORE: The ME/CFS Foundation SA
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which, according to researchers, amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals.
Symptoms include widespread pain in bones and muscles, fatigue, depression and anxiety, headaches, migraines and memory and concentration problems. FM symptoms often first appear after a traumatic event, such as surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single, obvious triggering event.
While there is no cure for FM, there are medications can help control the symptoms, as well as lifestyle changes, such as exercising, eating a wholesome diet and learning to manage stress.
FIND SUPPORT: Fibromyalgia Support Group South Africa
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Protection; Mayo Clinic