COVID-19: The Thin Line between Long Haulers and ME/CFS ‘Victims’

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Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a condition many physicians make comparisons to post COVID-19 symptoms, has raised many debates in the medical field. To date, medical experts suggest there is no precise cause for the condition, while some even go as far as to say it is all in the head. The main query between all the fiasco is whether long-haul COVID-19 patients are arguably all suffering from ME/CFS.

Several studies show ME/CFS is consistent with patients who have suffered acute respiratory viral infections such as the 1918 Spanish flu and Ebola. Characterized by symptoms like increased heart rates while standing among other physical activities, the condition seems to lean on a post-COVID effects area. However, finding a concrete evidence-backed answer to whether the two are related remains a tall mountain to climb for medical practitioners.

The ‘Post-COVID-19 Syndrome’ 

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) describe chronic fatigue syndrome as a condition that renders people unable to do their usual activities. Victims may even find it hard to walk, shower, or cook a meal, although the symptoms vary from one person to another. The CDC report on ME/CFS states that a person suffering from the illness may not necessarily look sick but may end up with disabilities if not treated. 

Scientists from Germany recently wrote a study on patients that contracted ME/CFS months after recovering from COVID-19. The study revealed that around 50% of post-SARS-CoV-2 patients were suffering from the condition, with a surprising discovery that even asymptomatic COVID-19 patients contracted the ME/CFS. Some patients were found with intense chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and pain that lasted for as long as 14 hours.

It seems undeniable that long COVID-19 patients fit in the criteria for contracting the chronic fatigue condition. Additionally, doctors could also find ways to treat ME/CFS while addressing the symptoms that post SARS-CoV-2 patients are suffering.

Should ME/CFS be taken Seriously? 

An anthropologist from the University of California-Davis said that the condition is not really ‘diagnosed.’ The specialist stated, “Making patients prove they are not just suffering, but suffering from a documented illness, saves money.”

The undeniable fact is that many doctors do not know how to deal with the condition. The best way to help such victims, according to several physicians, is to reduce their workload, which could mean they are practically disabled. According to Leonard Jason, a scholar at DePaul University, patients struggling with chronic fatigue illness may never really recover. Nevertheless, patients who have ME/CFS and post COVID-19 symptoms mustn’t be neglected, and doctors should dig deep into their arsenal to find cures or vaccines.