International CFS/ME Awareness Day 2023

Fri 12th May 2023


International ME/CFS Day raises awareness about ME/CFS, a widespread and debilitating condition. This event promotes a greater understanding of ME/CFS and the impact it can have on a person's life.

International ME/CFS Day is set to fall on the birth date of the pioneering nurse, Florence Nightingale (for information about Miss Nightingale view the National Nurses Week listing. This event also wraps around this birth date).

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a chronic, debilitating condition which brings a wide range of symptoms that can vary in type and intensity.

Persistent Fatigue

Chronic fatigue and post exertional malaise are usually the defining symptoms of this condition. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may be diagnosed when a person has experienced persistent fatigue for more than 6 months. Fatigue is different to tiredness; symptoms of tiredness indicate that a person is sleepy and needs to rest. A person with fatigue will experience low energy levels often without tiredness, although they may still need to rest as they have little energy. The level of fatigue experienced can vary over the course of a week, day, or even an hour.

Varying levels of fatigue add to the frustration this condition can bring to the sufferer (and suffer they do). When a person experiences periods of higher energy, they do not know if this change marks a recovery or if a relapse, a worsening of symptoms, will follow with increased activity. With this condition it can be difficult planning activities when you do not know how you will feel.

Post Exertional Malaise

A second common symptom is 'post exertional malaise'. This is a term which describes a symptom in which exercise or exertion can bring on malaise (illness). In the case of people with ME/CFS, malaise often occurs during a period some 24-72 hours after exertion. For example, in some cases, a short walk can worsen ME/CFS symptoms two days later.

This lack of understanding about the delayed onset of symptoms has, in the past, made it harder to test for ME/CFS. Follow up tests, taken less than 24 hours after an initial exercise test, may show that the patient can still perform activities at the same level (before post exertional malaise has a chance to take hold).

Brain Fog & Other Symptoms

People with this condition also experience an array of symptoms which may include cognitive dysfunction, muscle pain, depression, anxiety, mood swings, head ache and sensitivity to light and noise. 'Brain Fog' is loose term often used by people with ME/CFS to describe a state in which their mind is not functioning properly. When someone has 'brain fog' their memory may be poor, they may be unable to concentrate and when they talk they may find it hard to recall certain words.

Understanding The Effects Of This Condition

Coping with these symptoms on a daily basis, and on a timescale often measured in years, can be very hard; the impact this condition can have on a persons life is immense.

Many adults with ME/CFS are unable to work; long term unemployment brings further consequences. When children have this condition, their education is often affected.

M.E./CFS often affects a persons social life as communication can be tiring and their symptoms mean they are often unable to commit to social activities. In recent times, the internet and social networking has helped people with this condition connect with others.

Media Coverage Of This Event

In earlier years, this event did not receive much coverage by the media. With the advent of online blogging & social networking, publicity for this event and awareness about this condition has increased.

Our research has not been able to find an organization which is the primary sponsor or supporter of this event*. Despite this, there are a number of organizations and a growing community of people who support this event. There is now a dedicated Facebook page which provides a hub of focus.

For more information about this condition read our listing for M.E. Awareness Week.