What is it?
Firstly, in medical terms you can be diagnosed as having ‘chronic’ anything when you have had it continuously for at least 6 months. So, chronic fatigue is when you have had continuous fatigue (overwhelming exhaustion and unrefreshing sleep) for over 6 months.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) – These are the same illness and usually referred to as CFS/ME.
ME – the preferred term by patients as it means inflammation of the brain and spinal cord which, due to a history of not being believed, sounds more valid, than having ‘fatigue’ which translates as just being ‘tired’.
CFS – the preferred term by healthcare workers as there is no evidence of any patient actually having any inflammation of the brain or spinal cord and so the name Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is not strictly correct.
Having Chronic Fatigue is different to having CFS/ME because…
Fatigue itself presents during many other illnesses such as: Heart Disease; Multiple Sclerosis; Kidney Disease; Anaemia (plus many others) and it usually follows a flare of associated symptoms and then reduces. To put it simply the better managed the illness the less fatigued a person will be. Because of this, it is only once all other illnesses are ruled out that CFS/ME can be diagnosed.
I used to refer to myself as having Chronic Fatigue and it is only now in 2022, that MS has been ruled out following a lumber spine test, that I have been officially diagnosed with CFS/ME.
CFS/ME is a post viral illness as usually people get it after suffering a viral infection such as Glandular Fever. Long Covid is similar and as time moves on we are finding more and more people are diagnosed with CFS/ME after having Covid 19. However, it is currently still referred to as Long Covid as some symptoms such as loss of taste/smell and lung problems are still present and these are not a trait of CFS/ME so the two illnesses remain separate.
(Page updated 24/05/2022).