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Papers of the Week

Papers: 14 Jan 2023 - 20 Jan 2023


Adolesc Health Med Ther


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in Adolescents: Practical Guidance and Management Challenges.


This paper reviews the current understanding of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and whether any treatment strategies have been effective. ME/CFS is a condition of as yet unknown etiology that commonly follows an infective process. It includes a new onset of fatigue (of more than 3-6 month duration and not relieved by rest), post-exertional malaise, cognitive difficulties and unrefreshing sleep, and frequently orthostatic intolerance, somatic symptoms and pain. Long COVID has renewed interest in the condition and stimulated research with findings suggestive of a multisystem neuroimmune disease. There are no definitively effective treatments. Despite earlier recommendations regarding graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, the current recommendations are managing symptoms, with lifestyle management and supportive care. This paper provides an outline of strategies that young people and their families have reported as helpful in managing a chronic illness that impacts their life socially, physically, emotionally, cognitively and educationally. As the illness frequently occurs at a time of rapid developmental changes, reducing these impacts is reported to be as important as managing the physical symptoms. Young people face a mean duration of 5 years illness (range 1-16 years) with a likely residual 20% having significant restrictions after 10 years. Their feedback has suggested that symptom management, self-management strategies, advocacy and educational liaison have been the most helpful. They value professionals who will listen and take them seriously, and after excluding alternative diagnoses, they explain the diagnosis, are supportive and assist in monitoring their progress. Remaining engaged in education was the best predictor of later functioning. This allowed for social connections, as well as potential independence and fulfilling some aspirations. The need to consider the impact of this chronic illness on all aspects of adolescent development, as part of management, is highlighted.