A German study, published in August 2022 in nature communicationshows that even after mild COVID-19, some people develop symptoms that meet diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS.
Other people have similar but less severe symptoms that don’t meet criteria for the syndrome. Differences in laboratory findings between these two groups may indicate differences in the underlying mechanisms.
The suspicion that COVID-19 could trigger ME/CFS arose from the first wave of the pandemicsays Carmen Scheibenbogen from the Charity – University Medicine Berlin. “
Through a thorough diagnostic process and extensive comparison with patients who developed ME/CFS as a result of non-COVID-related infections, we were able to show that COVID-19 can trigger ME/CFS“, She explains.
Scheibenbogen and colleagues studied 42 people who presented to a medical center six months after their SARS-CoV-2 infection with persistent and severe fatigue and limited daily functioning. Most of them could not do light work for more than two to four hours a day; some were unable to work and had difficulty supporting themselves. Because they were infected during the first wave of the pandemic, none of them had been vaccinated.
Only three of them required hospital treatment during their first SARS-CoV-2 infection, but none required oxygen. Thirty-two met the WHO classification of mild COVID-19, meaning they did not develop pneumonia but had fairly severe symptoms including fever, cough, muscle and joint pain for a week or two.
Participants were evaluated by an interdisciplinary team of neurologists, immunologists, rheumatologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, and pulmonologists with years of experience diagnosing ME/CFS. The diagnosis was made using the Canadian Consensus Criteria (1).
For comparison, 19 matched individuals who had developed ME/CFS after a similar phase of illness due to non-COVID infection were also studied.
About half of the participants screened after contracting COVID met these criteria. The other half had similar symptoms, but their post-exercise discomfort was milder and only lasted a few hours. While participants with ME/CFS reported post-exercise discomfort that lasted overnight. (symptoms of post-exercise discomfort characteristic of chronic fatigue syndrome)
We can therefore distinguish two groups of post-COVID patients whose physical functioning is severely impairedconcludes Judith Bellman-Strobl, co-author.
The participants’ symptoms were then linked to their grip strength, which was reduced in most of them. “
We further found that people with mild exercise intolerance had decreased grip strength when they had elevated levels of the cytokine interleukin 8. In these cases, the reduction in muscle strength can be caused by an ongoing inflammatory responseexplains target arch.
However, in the ME/CFS group, grip strength correlated with the hormone NT-proBNP, which can be released from muscle cells when there is insufficient oxygen supply. This suggests that muscle weakness in these people can be caused by insufficient blood supply.»
According to preliminary observations, the two groups could also differ in the course of the disease. “
For many people whose symptoms suggest ME/CFS but do not meet diagnostic criteria, symptoms appear to improve over timeexplains target arch.
These new findings could help researchers develop specific treatments for post-COVID (“Long Covid”) syndrome and for ME/CFS.
Our data also provide further evidence that ME/CFS is not a psychosomatic disorder but a serious physical illness that can be measured and diagnosed using objective methods.says disk arch. (The symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are too often considered psychosomatic in emergencies)
Unfortunately, current treatments for ME/CFS are purely symptomatic in nature. That’s why I invite even young people to protect themselves against SARS-CoV-2 by getting vaccinated and wearing an FFP2 mask.‘ she concludes. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Stay in Your “Energy Bubble”)
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) see the links below.
(1) These criteria can be found on page 141 of the document Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: State of Knowledge and Evaluation of Intervention Methods in Québec, published by AETMIS in 2010 (replaced byNational Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services [Inesss] in 2011).
psychomedia with sources: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Nature Communications.
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