Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: 4 Notable Concerns for Women

Myalgic encephalomyelitis has all the elements of a woman's disease and should be given special attention. This chronic fatigue and neuro-immune disorder has several labels and descriptions, all of which are still evolving. It is one of the most confusing illnesses for both patient and physician. Mainstream doctors and many science researchers are also at odds with its label, scratching their heads to determine the exact nature and cause of the disorder to establish a viable basis for treatment.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is not a new illness; it has been around since 1955 where its name was first coined by Doctor Melvin Ramsay. In 1969 it was officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a separate disorder from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and its description was established as an organic neurological disorder.

People from all ethnicities and demographics are affected by myalgic encephalomyelitis; however, like many autoimmune and chronic pain conditions it is more common in women. As many as seventy per cent of patients diagnosed with the disorder, are women. This statistic, along with women's long history of susceptibilities to autoimmune syndromes, makes ME a disease for women to watch out for.

The definition for ME is best described as:

"A complex disease involving profound deregulation of the central nervous system and immune system, [in addition to] dysfunction of cellular energy metabolism and cardiovascular abnormalities."

The disorder manifests itself as a long-term disabling, systemic disease, a description provided by the National Alliance of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, cognitive disorder, headaches, disturbed sleep patterns, and muscular and joint pains.

The symptoms of ME are often not taken seriously from first onset, and this is not just from physicians, but particularly from sufferers themselves who often dismiss symptoms as a normal part of juggling the stresses of family and career.

When It's Time To See Your Health Care Provider

1. Extreme Fatigue and Heart Disease in Women
Extreme fatigue and gastrointestinal upsets resemble the symptoms of another serious disease that affects women, (symptomatically different from men) that of a heart attack. On-going symptoms of exhaustion, marked by a reduction of normal activities by as much as fifty per cent or more which is unrelieved with adequate bed-rest. Coupled with gastrointestinal interference this condition mimics some of the unique symptoms of a heart attack in women and should not be taken lightly.

2. Mental Confusion – Feeling like you are "Losing It"
Women have a lot on their plate as nurturers, homemakers, and income providers so much so that confusion, headaches, and short term memory loss may seem ordinary. If all of these elements are present consider a chat with your physician:
• Difficulty processing information – confusion, cognitive overload, dyslexia and slowed speech
• Short term memory loss – difficulty retrieving words, difficult remembering what one wanted to say, and poor working memory
• Chronic headaches – migraines, and prolonged tension headaches
• Neurosensory disorders – susceptibility to focus, sensitivities to vibration, noise and light

3. Psychological Component – Depression & Anxiety
Depression worsens the symptoms of any disease and often becomes a deepening spiral that is difficult to get out of, especially when it progresses too far. Depression and anxiety are fragile emotional states that are a natural response to developing ME. These emotions are usually as a result of the helplessness that women feel. Studies show that women commonly report feeling trapped in their own bodies during times of depression and anxiety.

When feelings of depression and anxiety are also accompanied by any of the following psychological symptoms, these should not be ignored:
• Sleep disturbance and non-restorative sleep
• Dismissals of friends and family and refusal to have visitors or socializing
• Persistent negative thoughts and a self-critical attitude

4: Tender, Swollen Lymph Nodes
One of the symptoms of myalgic encephalomyelitis is tender lymph nodes, especially under the arms and neck and a vulnerability to infection. This is usually an indication of immune activity and involvement. Tender, painful and swollen lymph are signs of infections and should be checked out. Swollen lymph around the breasts can mimic auspicious lumps or tumors linked to breast cancer. Women who conduct regular monthly breast self-examinations typically are more comfortable in telling the difference. All suspicious and painful lumps should always be professionally examined.

The tendency of most women is to give more of them while ignoring body signals that are sure warning signals that it is time to slow down or receive a health check. The noticeable distinction with ME from other disorders is the prolonged non -orative sleep, exercise intolerance, and cognitive problems rule out from any psychiatric conditions.

Although no noticeable actual cause has been established it is highly likely that the body's ability to cope with stress is somehow connected. Therefore, ways to cope with stress will give the best recovery from this condition. Yoga and meditation will clear the mind and allow for a different perspective on your life and where it is going, to negate stress and encourage greater contentment and happiness to return.

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