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ME/CFS Medical Seminar to be opened by Hon. David Davis MLC Minister for Health
Thursday 12 May 2011
Media Release: ME/CFS Medical Seminar to be opened by Hon. David Davis MLC Minister for Health
International ME/CFS Awareness Week 8-15 May 2011
Research suggests 180,000 Australians currently suffer from this chronic condition - but only 16% are diagnosed or receive treatment.
ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) state organisations are urging Australians to learn more about this chronic illness and its symptoms during this year's International Awareness Week. Too many Australians are suffering in isolation not aware that they have ME/CFS and that support and treatment is available.
President of the ME/CFS national organisation and state organisation for Victoria, Tasmania and Northern Territory, ME/CFS Australia (Vic,Tas,NT), Simon Molesworth AM QC, said that 180,000 Australians were estimated to have this chronic illness but only 16% were currently diagnosed, meaning too many were missing out on treatment and support. Mr Molesworth said that ME/CFS affected people from all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and people of all ages, even as young as five, with it being a major cause of students missing school and university. Women are affected by ME/CFS more than men at a ratio of 3 to 1. This is 135,000 women in Australia. Family, social breakdown and isolation are common with devastating impacts on families and individuals.
"Medical research in the US shows that ME/CFS patients are sicker with a far greater disability than patients with cardiac disease, HIV, MS, chronic lung disease or depression, but many Australians are bearing the burden of this illness IN isolation because they or their practitioner don't recognise the symptoms," said Mr Molesworth. It can take up to seven years for some to be diagnosed. Doctors, health professionals and the community need to become much more aware of ME/CFS so that we can target early intervention and support. Research shows that early and appropriate support is critical to outcomes and a reduced burden of disease.
Penny Abrahams, National CEO ME/CFS (Australia) estimates the cost to the Australian community at well over $3 billion annually, with the burden of care falling on families. When we consider the ongoing social impact of this condition the real costs of this disability are frightening. Return to previous employment is low with a significant ‘loss of productive years’ due to the remitting and relapsing nature of ME/CFS. Further investment into early intervention, support services and education provided by ME/CFS state organisations will yield immense, long term and cost effective benefits for our society.
Medical adviser to ME/CFS Australia (Vic,Tas,NT) Dr Nicole Phillips, said that "ME/CFS when accurately diagnosed is not just fatigue, it is not just chronic fatigue it is not a psychological condition but is a real physical and neurological condition. It is a myth that it is in a person's head. The big difference with ME/CFS sufferers is that they are desperate to get help, get better and regain their previously full and active lives," said Dr Phillips.
"People with ME/CFS will experience overwhelming fatigue that, importantly, is not made better by resting and gets worse with physical or mental exertion, like constantly having the flu " All will have trouble thinking like a ‘cognitive fog’ with sensitivities to stimuli such as noise, light or crowds. In addition, all will have sleep disturbances, and muscle or joint aches and/ or headaches. A range of other symptoms may be evident such as constant swollen neck glands, changes in body temperature, dizziness when standing still, gut or bowel changes, pallour and urinary problems," said Dr Phillips.
"Anyone who thinks they might have ME/CFS can call ME/CFS Australia (Vic, Tas, NT) for information, advice and support. Health practitioners may call for a copy of the internationally accepted ME/CFS diagnostic criteria."
Australians are being urged to wear a blue ribbon to mark International ME/CFS Awareness Day on 12 May. 12 May is Florence Nightingale’s birthday – who is thought to have had ME/CFS, being mostly confined to bed and highly housebound after she returned from Crimea following an infection.
The above originally appeared here.
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