Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a disease that is hardly understood by doctors. They don’t understand it and can’t cure it either.
Jennifer Brea, a 31-year old patient who was studying a doctorate in political science at Harvard and is now on medical leave, explains, “I can’t drive. I can’t leave my house unattended, and I’m in a wheelchair. Even sitting in a wheelchair is taxing for me. It is pretty much impossible for me to do what I was doing before.”
CFS has been around since the 1930s in being a ‘polio-liked’ disease that affected mostly women yet it remains as puzzling and hard to understand as ever.
In studying this disease for years now, a number of viral infections have been linked to this disease as being potential triggers. However, studies have shown that there is no link between the two. Some of these viruses include HIV, the Epstein-Barr virus, the human herpesvirus 6, Rubella and bornaviruses.
Currently there is no cure for the disease but only cognitive behavioral therapies as well as ways to manage symptoms that might alleviate the effects of this condition. Some of these include controlling noise, light and temperature at home, avoiding tobacco, caffeine and alcohol, eating healthy as well as exercising regularly too.
Most if not all CFS patients are bed-ridden and in an effort to create awareness, their experiences will be placed in a documentary titled ‘Canary in a Coalmine’.
Almost one million people in the United States suffer from this disease and can affect both sexes who are in their 40s and 50s.