What are FM and ME/CFS?

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About CFS / M.E.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.).


According to Statistics Canada, 341,126 Canadians have had a doctor diagnose them with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That survey was conducted in 2003, with the findings just released in mid-2005.

The World Health Organisation’s ICD classification of “Benign Myalgic Encephalomyelitis”:
a specific condition under the code: ICD-10 G93.3

Symptom Overview:

CFS is a serious and complex illness that affects many body systems. The cardinal characteristic of CFS is a debilitating pathological exhaustion not reversed by rest, no matter how much one has. This situation results in a substantial reduction of previous levels of activity. In order to be clinically diagnosed with CFS, an individual must meet both of the following criteria:

  1. clinically evaluated, unexplained persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that is of new or definite onset, is not the result of ongoing exertion, is not substantially alleviated by rest and results in substantial reduction of previous levels of occupational, educational, social or personal activities; and
  2. four or more of the following key symptoms are concurrently present for 6 months or longer:
    • substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration (attention deficit, memory lapses, frequently using the wrong word, spatial disorientation);
    • sore throat;
    • extreme joint and muscle pain without swelling or redness;
    • headaches of a new type, pattern or severity;
    • unrefreshing sleep (hypersomnia or insomnia, nightmares);
    • painful lymph nodes;
    • post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours.

Profound exhaustion, the hallmark of the disorder, can come on suddenly or gradually and persists or recurs throughout the period of illness. Unlike the short-term disability of an acute infection, CFS symptoms by definition linger for at least 6 months and often for years.

CFS often begins abruptly, but sometimes the onset is gradual. In about one-third of cases, the sudden onset follows a respiratory, gastrointestinal, or other acute infection with flu-like symptoms. Other cases develop after emotional or physical traumas such as bereavement or surgery.

M.E./CFS is recognized by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The symptoms have been well documented and there is scientific evidence of immunologic, neurologic, and metabolic dysregulation.