CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME IS..
A Major Disorder
“I split my clinical time between the two illnesses, and I can tell you if I had to choose between the two illnesses I would rather have H.I.V.” Dr. Nancy Klimas, 2009
Center For Disease Control (CDC) studies indicate that chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients have disability rates similar to people with multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and other serious diseases. The FDA classification of ME/CFS as a serious disorder puts it in the same classification as disorders such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, etc.
Studies suggest from 1-4 million people in the U.S. have chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Middle-aged women are most commonly affected but the disorder can strike males or females of almost any age.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates approximately 80% of people that meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in the United States have not been diagnosed. With information on ME/CFS appearing in few medical schools, and with prominent information resources such as the Mayo Clinic and the CDC presenting simplistic information,, doctor ignorance is high and ME/CFS knowledgeable physicians are rare.
The average annual costs per family, including financial losses due to unemployment, are about $25,000 a year. CDC studies suggest chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) costs the US economy about 20 billion dollars a year.
More Commonly Found in Women
Like its so-called ‘allied disorders’ such as fibromygalia and irritable bowel syndrome, ME/CFS is most commonly found in women. Few studies, however, have attempted to determine why this gender imbalance exists.
Defined By Symptoms (Not Laboratory Tests)
Although consistent laboratory results can be found (reduced natural killer cell functioning, reduced HRV, reduced blood volume, reduced blood flows to the brain, etc.) laboratory results are not considered diagnostic and most physicians rely on symptoms to diagnose ME/CFS. ME/CFS physicians state the disorders presentation is unmistakable.
Besides exhaustion or fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients often display a wide variety of symptoms but two symptoms, post-exertional malaise (symptom increase after exercise) and cognitive issues are considered hallmarks of the illness. Other common symptoms include muscle and joint pain, headaches, difficulty standing without symptoms (orthostatic intolerance), digestive issues, problems with light, noise, odor, etc.
- Dig Deeper! Check out ME/CFS Symptoms
Poorly Funded and Studied
Despite Center for Disease Control (CDC) studies indicating a million patients with high rates of disability are present in the US, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is amongst the most poorly funded disorders, ranking in the bottom 5% in funding of the diseases and conditions the NIH funds. High economic costs to the nation (approx $20 billion/year) contrast with extremely low funding per patient per year (@ $4). Disorders of similar scope typically receive from 50 to 200 million dollars a year in funding. ME/CFS gets about four.