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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day

Doctor speaking with female patientMay 12 is ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day. Learn about chronic fatigue syndrome and how to participate.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is characterized by substantial debility, which affects daily activities, and is accompanied by profound fatigue that is not relieved by rest. While varying by person, symptoms include post-exertional malaise, cognitive problems, unrefreshing sleep, and pain.

Researchers estimate that at least one million Americans have ME/CFS, but only 20% are diagnosed with the illness. Patients, families, employers, and society endure significant costs associated with ME/CFS. These costs are estimated to be $18-51 billion annually in the United States. Although most common in women, ME/CFS affects people of all ages, including children, and all races and ethnicities. Scientists have not determined the cause or causes of ME/CFS.

How to Participate in CFS/ME Awareness Day

	Blue ribbon

ME/CFS Awareness Day is being observed around the world in many different cities and countries. This day helps brings awareness to CFS patients, families, caregivers, and researchers. You can show your support by:

  • Wearing the color blue on May 12, 2016
  • Looking for local ME/CFS events in your community
  • Sharing your personal stories about ME/CFS
  • Telling a neighbor or friend about ME/CFS
  • Learning more about ME/CFS (see links below)

CDC Public Health Grand Rounds

On February 16, 2016 CDC held a Public Health Grand Rounds titled "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Advancing Research and Clinical Education." An expert panel of clinicians, epidemiologists, and researchers discussed how to diagnose and manage ME/CFS based on experiences in their own practices, how the diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome have changed over the years, and how the public health community can continue to improve knowledge and understanding of this complex disorder.

The presentation and discussion renewed attention to ME/CFS and the people affected by this illness.

Getting a Diagnosis and Managing ME/CFS

Contact your doctor if you are concerned that you or a family member might have ME/CFS. Because there are no specific tests to diagnose ME/CFS (for example, no blood or other lab test), the diagnosis is made on the basis of characteristic symptoms and history of illness. Your doctor will

  • Take a detailed medical history
  • Conduct a thorough physical and mental health exam
  • Order a series of laboratory screening tests to help identify or rule out other possible causes of symptoms
  • Order additional tests as needed to follow up

Diagnosis and treatment of ME/CFS can be challenging. Work with your doctor and other healthcare professionals to cope during this difficult time.
If you have ME/CFS, you may be dealing with

  • Worries about your health
  • Changing and unpredictable symptoms that may interfere with activities of daily living
  • Memory and concentration problems that seriously affect work or school performance
  • Loss of independence, livelihood, and financial security
  • Changes in relationships with family and friends

Living with ME/CFS is challenging. You may struggle with debilitating symptoms and other problems such as depression or frustration, but remember you are not alone. Support is very important when dealing with any illness. Your doctor and other healthcare professionals can offer help and support. And don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help. Support also can come from a counselor or a ME/CFS support group. Together, you can find ways to manage your illness.

Recognize that carrying out activities of daily living may be challenging for you.  Avoid overdoing physical activities that may make your ME/CFS symptoms worse. Talk to your doctor before starting any new type of activity program.

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