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COVID-19 May Cause Hallmark ME/CFS Post-Exertional Malaise

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What you should know: On Sunday, Autostraddle senior writer Heather Hogan posted an update on Facebook about her recovery from COVID-19. She’s on her 10th week of symptoms, and she shared one of the most debilitating right now is post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), the twin of post-exertional malaise people with ME/CFS experience.

This fatigue I’m talking about, which isn’t just feeling tired or sleepy, but like there’s no bones in my body and gravity is pushing down extra hard on me, to the point that I can’t lift my arms above my head.  — Heather Hogan

I'm entering week ten of COVID symptoms. My first few weeks played out in the mild respiratory way, which was mild only…

Posted by Heather Hogan on Monday, May 25, 2020

The Frontlines: COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms, and lingering post-viral fatigue seems to be another among those who have more mild cases of the virus. This type of fatigue, which most often occurs after exerting any kind of energy (as little as eating a bowl of oatmeal), is also a hallmark symptom of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

  • ME/CFS causes symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping or unrefreshing sleep, trouble concentrating and chronic pain
  • Post-exertional malaise (PEM) can occur 12 to 48 hours after exerting energy and can last for days or weeks
  • Experts recommend balancing activity and rest to prevent PEM flares to prevent worsening illness

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Caroline Christian, explained that managing PEM can be difficult, but it’s necessary if you live with ME/CFS. “Instead of feeling sidelined by my illness and doing everything I can to preserve the last vestiges of life as I knew it before falling ill, I can remind myself that resting even when I feel better may hold the key to a meaningful recovery.” You can submit your first person story, too.

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From Our Community: 

May for ME

Add your voice: Join The Mighty’s Coronavirus group by downloading our app or comment below.

Other things to know: What’s it like living with ME/CFS and the fatigue that comes with it? Our Mighty members shared their experiences:

More helpful thinking: If you’re new to dealing with post-viral fatigue due to COVID-19, Hogan included some great resources at the end of her Facebook post for more information. You can check it out here.

Header image via Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash

Originally published: May 26, 2020
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