Martine McCutcheon shares struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome – key symptoms

CFS, also known as Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a condition that can affect anyone, often striking in silence without noticeable symptoms.

While CFS can occur at any age, it is more commonly seen in women, typically developing between the mid-20s and mid-40s, according to the NHS. Martine took to Instagram to reveal the challenges she has faced since her diagnosis, which led to a hospitalisation scare last year.

In her social media post, Martine expressed her love for Mallorca but acknowledged the difficulties she encountered during her recent travels.

She wrote: “Mallorca life. Love it. Had a big flare up of my CFS lately and the travel was tough but waking up in the sunshine, feeling the hot heat soothe your aches and pains along with a warm gentle warm breeze is just heaven!”

CFS is a complex and chronic illness that manifests differently in each individual, with symptoms varying in severity. The condition affects approximately 17 million people worldwide, with an estimated 250,000 individuals in the UK suffering from it, as reported by Liverpool Echo.

The NHS website outlines the various symptoms associated with ME:

  • Fatigue
  • Post-exertional malaise
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Sore throat/tender lymph nodes
  • Swollen glands
  • Cognitive difficulties (brain fog)
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • IBS or stomach issues
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • Persistent tiredness even after rest or sleep

Less common symptoms may include:

  • Nerve pain
  • Temperature regulation dysfunction
  • Hypermobility
  • Muscle twitching or cramps
  • Orthostatic intolerance
  • Poor circulation, insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Allergies
  • Sensitivities to foods and chemicals
  • Memory issues
  • Shortness of breath

The exact cause of ME remains unknown. Some experts suggest viral infections like glandular fever can trigger the condition. Additionally, genetics and immune system problems are believed to play a role. It is also possible that defects in energy-producing cells within the body contribute to the development of CFS.

In the past, graded exercise therapy (GET) was commonly used to manage CFS by gradually introducing physical activity into a patient’s routine. However, this approach was discontinued as it was found to worsen the illness and even result in fatalities. The NHS now advises against GET for individuals with ME/CFS.

The recommended forms of management for CFS outlined on the NHS website include energy management, pacing, pain medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and antidepressants to address the mental health effects associated with the condition.

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