How can ME/CFS be distinguished from similar conditions?
Post-exertional malaise is a distinguishing hallmark symptom of the disease.
Patients with mild or moderate cases of ME/CFS may have brief periods without noticeable fatigue or other symptoms. It doesn’t last long. Within hours or a few days of the activity, the patient experiences a “crash” of feeling sick to the point that they can’t function.2,3 It may last hours, days, or weeks. Depending on how bad the episode is, the “crash” symptoms may include a hoarse voice, debilitating fatigue, mental fog, body aches, headache, hot and cold flashes, nausea, and vomiting.
Some patients find they can start off at work feeling pretty good on Monday because they rested over the weekend. By Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, they are struggling to finish the workday. In addition to mental or physical activity, other triggers for a “crash” include infections, surgery, an accident, or stress.
In severe cases, about 25 per cent of the estimated 1 million Americans with the disease, patients struggle to take care of their daily needs, such as changing clothes and preparing a meal.4 Some patients with severe ME/CFS are totally bed-bound and too weak to feed themselves, talk or even breath.
Source: Open Medicine Foundation