Study Describes PEM Warning Signs in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

According to a post on WAMES (Working for ME in Wales), a recent study used a retrospective analysis to identify potential warning signs for a characteristic symptom of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME): post exertional malaise (PEM). This is a worsening of symptoms following intense activity or stress. These warning signs could help people living with myalgic encephalomyelitis prepare for an episode of PEM or minimize its impacts.

About Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is a 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 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.

Study Findings

This retrospective analysis included data from patients that visited the Angers University Hospital in France in the period of October 2011 and December of 2019. Patients that reported non-typical symptoms before baseline symptom exacerbation (as commonly occurs in PEM) were then evaluated alongside the rest of the patients, whose data was investigated for signs of PEM.

The study determined that non-typical symptoms occurred before PEM in 13.7 percent of patients. In this group, intensity of PEM appeared to be significantly lower. The most frequent non-typical symptoms that appeared in these patients was mood change/disorders. While the findings indicate that non-typical symptoms appeared before PEM in only a limited number of patients, they could nevertheless be a warning sign that could help these patients reduce the intensity of PEM or even prevent its occurrence. 

To check out the full study, click here.

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