May 12, 2017, is the 25th anniversary of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity International Awareness Day.

Over 20 million individuals worldwide are afflicted by these chronic illnesses. Once diagnosed, one is often ill for years and as many as 70 percent are disabled for life. The illnesses listed share many of the same symptoms and generally occur together. Symptoms include disrupted sleep, chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment, short term memory loss, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, and dizziness. These illnesses affect men, women, and children of all backgrounds and presently the cause is unknown.

  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), is a neurological and autoimmune disease characterized by overwhelming fatigue, pain, post-exertional malaise, headaches, cardiac symptoms, immune disorders, dizziness, and balance problems.
  • Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by severe musculoskeletal pain and tenderness in many areas of the body, along with fatigue and sleep dysfunction, generalized or regional stiffness, and in some cases neurological and cognitive symptoms. This pain can become strong enough to prevent people from working or engaging in physical activities for months and even years.
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), also called Environmental Sensitivities or Intolerances, means an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to different kinds of pollutants such as chemicals, perfumes, and other environmental triggers.

These illnesses affect a great number of people, yet they are still often given little attention by many medical professionals. With little government funding for research on these “hidden disabilities” and a large number of doctors that still harbor the belief that these illnesses are in fact psychological disorders, these syndromes are often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Because of their symptoms, they are sometimes initially thought to be other conditions such as depression, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or other autoimmune diseases.

The general population will often snub these illnesses, attributing them to extreme forms of laziness and depression. In reality, they are caused by insufficient energy production, weak immune systems, hormonal imbalance, and detoxification problems. Unfortunately, regardless of how many medical test abnormalities patients with these illnesses display, they have a hard time getting approval for workplace disability. Insurance companies frequently deny benefits or coverage, forcing many doctors who recognize the disease to diagnose it as something else.

In honor of those afflicted with these illnesses, we hope you will join in and help raise awareness on May 12th.  Here is a small list of some things that you can do:

  • Wear blue for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Look for local ME/CFS events in your community
  • Share your personal stories about ME/CFS
  • Tell a neighbor or friend about ME/CFS
  • Learn more about ME/CFS

If you frequently have issues falling asleep or staying asleep that impact your life over longer periods of time, consult a doctor or specialist for help and guidance in getting your best rest. Call 480-830-3900 to schedule a consultation at one of our five convenient Valley Sleep Center locations today.