POST EXPOSURE TO COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing global attention to fatigue that occurs after viral illnesses. Patients recovering from COVID-19 are reporting unresolved symptoms characteristic of ME/CFS and are calling themselves “long haulers.” 1 This attention to ME is long overdue as it has been a poorly recognized but common issue. ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) affects an estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans. According to the U.S. Clinician Coalition, a group of clinician experts in ME/CFS, an estimated 84 to 91 percent of patients have not yet been diagnosed. ME/CFS affects 3 times as many women as men and reported in patients younger than age 10 and older than age 70. The onset of the illness peaks between ages 11-19 and 30-39 years old. At least 25% of patients are bedbound or housebound and up to 75% are unable to work or attend school. Symptoms can persist for years, and patients may never regain their pre-disease functioning. ME/CFS costs the US $17 to $24 billion annually in lost productivity and direct medical costs.11
The first time someone may become concerned with ME/CFS is when they notice extreme fatigue and malaise after any physical or mental activity, even after their routine exercise. An individual can also notice that recovery after any exertion takes longer, and night sleep does not provide the usual refreshment, or there is significant difficulty falling asleep. The persistent or relapsing debilitating fatigue and post exertional malaise in ME/CFS usually do not resolve with rest and is severe enough to impair everyday daily activity in comparison to the individual’s pre-illness activity level. Frequently, a patient may remember the episode of infectious illness, such as mononucleosis or flu (or now potentially COVID-19), from which they “have never recovered.” The onset of ME/CFS is often abrupt. Moderate to severe fatigue which is present at least 50% of the time is a key finding distinguishing ME/CFS from other causes of chronic fatigue.
If you or someone you know is currently suffering from symptoms of ME/CFS and are frustrated with your current care and have been told “there is nothing wrong with you,” at Rezilir, we will listen to your story.
- NIH Director’s Blog. (September 3, 2020). COVID-19 long haulers. https://directorsblog.nih.gov/tag/covid-long-haulers/