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Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration describes ME/CFS as, “a complex, debilitating disease characterized by profound fatigue lasting for six or more consecutive months that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity.”  The nature and severity of symptoms vary from person to person; however, many body systems are known to be affected, with ME/CFS patients experiencing severe muscle and joint pain, cognitive impairment, unrefreshing sleep and a worsening of symptoms with mental or physical exertion. Despite the fact that the cause of ME/CFS is not known, these chronic and debilitating symptoms are known to increase long-term disability and premature death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between one and four million people in the United States are afflicted with ME/CFS. The disease may occur with sudden onset, such as following an infection, or it may develop gradually.

The onset of ME/CFS symptoms occurs in two  distinct age ranges; the first peak occurs between the ages of 10–19 years and the second peak between the ages of 30–39. Although more common in women, ME/CFS also affects men, as well as people of all racial, age, and socioeconomic groups.

The economic impact of ME/CFS is reported to be $37 billion in medical costs and lost productivity.

Watch the following TED Talk from Jen Brea who did a documentary on ME/CFS: