There are several different illnesses that have similar characteristics, which can make it hard for a person to get the right diagnosis.
For those who are dealing with chronic fatigue, along with pain or other issues, they are going to find that there are three main illnesses that could be the culprits.
These illnesses are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as CFS, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as ME, and fibromyalgia.
It is important to note that CFS and ME are often combined as ME/CFS. To understand the differences, a person must know what each illness is categorized as to see how different these issues really are.
CFS/ME: Understanding this Complex Illness
CFS/ME is one of those illnesses that can affect anyone. In fact, it is estimated that in the United States alone around 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans have this illness.
However, around 80 to 90 percent of people who have CFS/ME are not even aware of it. Thus, those who are affected are even greater than what we realize. CFS/ME is categorized by several aspects, including:
– Having profound fatigue.
– You feel even more tired and overall worse after emotional, physical or mental efforts.
– You find it hard to carry out normal everyday activities.
– When you sleep, you still wake as though you haven’t slept.
– Symptoms are often worse when a person is standing, however, they improve when a person lays back down.
– Abnormal immune function is present, making it harder for a person to overcome infection.
Those who do have CFS/ME often find that this persists for several years, and there is really no cure. Per studies, they believe that at least one-quarter of those who have CFS/ME are bed ridden or remain at home, no matter what, at some points throughout having this illness.
Fibromyalgia: The Silent Pain
Fibromyalgia can affect anyone in the world, though it usually affects more women than men. The characteristics that point to fibromyalgia being the illness a person has is:
– Being extremely tired, even after getting a good night’s rest.
– Points of pain on the body that are called pressure points. These pressure points can cause pain when touched that often has a person flinch from the pain.
– Pain felt throughout the body is often worse around joints.
– Many people feel as though they are in a fog all day due to being tired coupled with the pain that they feel.
– Often the memory of the person is affected.
– Depression and anxiety are two of the mental issues that accompany those with fibromyalgia
Those who have fibromyalgia often describe this pain as though they have the flu. They ache everywhere, and this is often worse in the during certain times of the day.
The Similarities Between CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia
As you can see, these two illnesses are easy to confuse. They have several similarities that make it hard to distinguish between the two. The similarities are:
1- Both illness cause major fatigue that affects the body and the mind.
2- People can often become home bound or bed ridden when they are dealing with each illness.
3- Both illnesses can cause the flu-like ache that many people report feeling.
4- Doing day to day activities with either illness can seem like it takes a toll on the body.
5- Sleep may be found with either illness, but sleep does not seem to improve the fatigue that a person is experiencing.
6- Neither illness is one that you get over. This is something that sufferers deal with for the rest of their lives.
7- There does not seem to be any muscle inflammation in those who have either illness, despite many people thinking that there should be.
It is these similarities that makes many people confuse fibromyalgia and CFS/ME. However, it is the small differences that make it easy for your medical professional to see which illness is affecting your life.
The Differences Between Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME
The key differences between these illnesses is rather small. But knowing the differences can allow medical professionals to treat a person in a way that is going to help them to cope with these illnesses. These differences:
1- Those with fibromyalgia often have accompanying issues such as depression, anxiety, bladder issues, and stomach issues. Those with CFS/ME do not report having these extra issues going along with the aches and tiredness.
2- The pain that is felt with CFS/ME is not associated with pressure points. This is one of the main ways in which fibromyalgia is diagnosed. Fibromyalgia sufferers have 18 pressure points on their bodies that cause severe pain when touched. This is not the case for those with CFS/ME.
3- Those who have CFS/ME often find their symptoms are better when laying down. Those who suffer with fibromyalgia do not find relief with laying down, as the pain seems to feel like a constant ache.
4- Those with CFS/ME often find that they cannot get over infections as well since this does affect the immune system. While those with fibromyalgia do not have as many immune issues.
5- Muscle pain is not seen with CFS/ME, hence why doctors are moving to call this SEID (systemic exertion intolerance disease), while muscle pain is seen in those with fibromyalgia.
These are two very separate illnesses, though they do easily get confused among those who are considering whether they have these or not.
It is important to discuss all the symptoms you having at the time, so that your doctor can figure out just which illness is affecting your body. Both issues can be treated so that you can start to have a normal life.
However, there is currently no cure or real reason as to why some people are affected and others are not. Whichever illness affects a person though, it is widely known that they are tired, and often in pain and missing the life that they once had.