Former EastEnders actress Martine McCutcheon has told how she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome ME over 18 months ago.
The 37-year old said that she collapsed 20 times and piled on weight before doctors were able to get to the root of the problem.
She has opened up about the illness in order to raise awareness and reassure ME sufferers that they can live normal lives.
“I want to give hope to ME sufferers, even people who don’t know what they have got. I want them to know that they are not going mad and that they can get better. You can live a normal and good life again,” she said.
What is it?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a condition that causes severe tiredness and doesn't improve after resting. It’s a genuine, long-term debilitating condition.
It’s more common in women than men, and you’re more likely to develop the condition as you get older.
While it can affect children, although it’s unlikely to affect children under 10, it usually affects children aged 13 to 15 year
Around 250,000 people in the UK have CFS/ME. The condition affects people in different ways.
What causes it?
While doctors don’t fully understand what causes CFS/ME. Some people may develop it after an infection. Many people who develop CFS/ME have been previously fit and active.
What are the symptoms?
• Everyday physical activity, such as taking a shower, can make you feel exhausted.
• Fatigue that lasts more than 24 hours.
• Muscle and joint pain.
• Painful glands in your neck or armpits.
• A sore throat and headaches.
• Forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion or difficulty concentrating.
• Sleep disturbances – waking up feeling tired or unrested, or having trouble getting to sleep.
• Flu-like symptoms.
• Problems with your balance.
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms such as constipation or diarrhoea and bloating.
Over time, you may become depressed or have mood swings and your symptoms may vary, with some days being worse than others.
Most people with CFS/ME find that their symptoms come and go, often returning after illness or stress.
For more information, visit the ME Association.