How will future generations look at Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME)?
Of course, nobody knows. But it’s possible to make some educated guesses.
CFS IN HISTORY
It’s not much of a stretch to assume that CFS will go down in history as yet another illness that the medical profession – and society as a whole – didn’t take seriously enough.
Anyone with a more direct connection with CFS knows it’s a serious, debilitating, and very real illness, and one that often comes after a viral infection.
WHY IS IT NOT TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY?
So why has the medical profession not taken it more seriously? Why doesn’t society take it more seriously?
There are several likely answers:
It impacts more women than men, and “women’s diseases” have traditionally not been taken as seriously as the diseases that impact men.
We don’t have an easy method for detecting CFS. It’s an exclusion diagnosis. We need to exclude a lot of other diseases it could be and are then left with CFS.
We don’t have a clear understanding of the mechanisms behind it. It’s easy for some doctors to assume it’s psychological. Or it’s something they don’t want to deal with because it’s difficult to diagnose and they can’t do much about it.
It may not be so attractive to most researchers. They may not know where to start. And even if they did find some answers, there hasn’t been much money in it. (That may change now that so many have some form of long covid.)
Those with CFS are typically in no position to speak up in a strong or well-organized way. We don’t have the energy or resources.
CFS AND COVID
We knew that the covid-pandemic likely would lead to a lot more people with CFS, and that has turned out to be the case. The media is giving it more attention. And I assume there is more research now than before the pandemic, although the research is likely focused specifically on long-covid.
Long-covid is a post-viral syndrome and a form of CFS. It can take different forms, as can CFS in general. It often comes with fatigue, post-exertion malaise (PEM), and brain fog, as does CFS in general. And it does sometimes have characteristics more unique to covid, like lung damage. (In my experience, it impacted my memory and gave me Teflon brain, which CFS from the EB virus didn’t do in the same way.)
What is the mechanism behind CFS?
Nobody really knows. We may find one clear mechanism, and even then, I assume we’ll find a lot of factors that play a role. (In my case, I assume the trigger may have been a combination of genetics, stress, mold, and the Epstein-Barr virus. The second time I got strong CFS, it was following pneumonia.)
What will the solution be?
I have no idea. We may eventually find a medical treatment that works wonders. In the meantime, the best approach seems to be a combination of nutrition, herbs, rest, and cognitive and behavioral strategies to deal with the condition in the best way possible.