Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Latest Published Research

The ME Association has recently published its latest weekly “research roundup” for the week of April 17th. This includes the latest research related to myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This week’s roundup includes the abstracts of four different studies related to the disease. Myalgic encephalomyelitis continues to be a very poorly understood rare illness and continued research is essential.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is a rare condition which is most characterized by long term fatigue and other symptoms which severely impact a person’s ability to fulfill daily tasks. The exact cause of the syndrome is poorly understood. Risk factors may include family history, low physical fitness, old age, mental health problems, and allergies. Women are also more likely to get the myalgic encephalomyelitis than men. The characteristic symptom is severe, persistent fatigue that has no definitive cause and is not resolved with rest; other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, worsening of symptoms following exercise, night sweats, sensitivities to certain foods, noise, or odors, muscle and joint pain, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and sore throat. Symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly, and in severe cases can leave a patient bedridden. Some treatments may include energy management strategies such as pacing and changes in diet. To learn more about myalgic encephalomyelitis, click here.

Here are brief descriptions of the four studies from the roundup and links to their abstracts:

  1. A study conducted in Sweden investigated sleep activity and emotional regulation in patients living with the condition. Poor quality sleep has long been a known symptom of the illness. The researchers found that 22 percent of patients had sleep apnea (brief disruptions in breathing) and 70 percent had a higher number of sleep disturbances or awakenings during the night when compared to a control group. Learn more here.
  2. A Belgian study investigated electroencephalogram (EEG) signals triggered by laser stimulus in a healthy control group, and group living with chronic whiplash, and a group of myalgic encephalomyelitis patients. Intended to detect differences in neuropathic pain, the results found little difference between the groups, suggesting that patients do not suffer from nervous system hyperexcitability. Learn more here.
  3. EUROMENE research group has completed development of a method to investigate the economic impact and burden of the condition throughout Europe. The group hopes to make comparisons of economic burden between different countries. Learn more here.
  4. A study from Newcastle University has investigated changes to mitochondria in patients living with the condition. The researchers have found that the most drastically impacted patients have less glycolysis, an essential component of cellular energy metabolism. This may explain why these patients experience the most severe impacts. Learn more here.

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