Full article can be found here: https://www.healthrising.org/blog/2023/04/17/chronic-fatigue-long-covid-post-exertional-malaise/
Three studies on post-exertional malaise in chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and one on ME/CFS and long COVID have recently popped up. In their blog, they cover them all.
The Distinctive Symptom – PEM (Not Fatigue) That “fatigue” in “chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)”
Since PEM is the distinguishing symptom of ME/CFS, we really should be able to know it, describe it, and make it distinguishable.
In, “A Brief Questionnaire to Assess Post-Exertional Malaise”, the Jason group reported that the subscale was able to correctly identify 80% of the ME/CFS, MS, and PPS patients.
A Simple Diagnostic for PEM? The study which, included 49 people with ME/CFS and 10 sedentary but healthy controls, assessed their symptoms for up to a week after the exercise.
Ninety-six percent of ME/CFS patients (vs 55% of HCs) reported increased fatigue by the end of the study. Muscle/joint pain showed a similar pattern (86 vs 36%), but the key findings are still to come.
The researchers were able to track how discriminating the symptoms were as the exercise test proceeded. The more the ME/CFS patients exercised, and the longer Workwell tracked symptoms, the easier it was to differentiate people with ME/CFS vs the healthy controls.
Post-exertional Malaise – A Key Symptom in ME/CFS and Long COVID?
The “Post-exertional malaise among people with long COVID compared to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)” study was a collaboration between the Bateman Horne Center (BHC) in Salt Lake City (Suzanne Vernon, Lucinda Bateman) and Derya Unutmaz’s research group at the Jackson Labs. The study assessed the responses to an online questionnaire given to long-COVID and ME/CFS patients at the Bateman Horne Center.
While it appears that some symptoms (cardiovascular, neurological, temperature issues, etc.) are not particularly provoked by exercise, all the major symptoms of ME/CFS (fatigue, reduced functioning, gut problems, sleep issues, muscle/joint pain) are.
The recovery after exercise study indicated that ME/CFS patients, on average, took two weeks to recover. A small portion (7-8%) took up to two months to recover, and one patient reported he was not recovered after a year.
Finally, the incidence and symptoms associated with post-exertional malaise (PEM) in long-COVID patients appear to be nearly identical to those found in ME/CFS, with the proviso that PEM symptoms appear to be more severe in long COVID. That may be because long-COVID patients have not learned how to handle their PEM as well as people with ME/CFS.