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Is ME/CFS modern disease?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Skippa, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Skippa

    Skippa Anti-BS

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    Do you think it is a modern phenomena, or simply been around for aeons with only modern observations identifying it?

    Would we have died as sickly children in times gone by, or starved in the workhouses or as beggars in the streets?

    Or has *something* about modern living (say the past 100 years or so) caused us to become more susceptible?

    If the latter is the case, then there are sooo many culprits to choose from...
     
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  2. halcyon

    halcyon Senior Member

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    I'm fond of the hygiene hypothesis, at least to explain adult onset. We've probably always been slightly vulnerable to this disease at all ages though. I've heard at least one ME clinician say that he thinks incidence has been increasing, even during his own career.

    According to Byron Hyde, descriptions of this disease go back to the 1800s. Peter Behan says it goes back to the 1700s when it was termed febricula. I'm sure it goes way back further than that, beyond our ability to observe and describe it. There are doctors in 2016 that can't even recognize the disease.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  3. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    I think about this a lot! I know I’ve read countless pre-twentieth century novels in which there were characters described as having poor health or a frail constitution, sickly or feeble. Plenty of these characters have lost their health at some point in life, rather than being compromised from birth. And their illness is generally ‘medically unexplained’.

    And it’s not just in fiction. Wikipedia bios of luminaries from times gone by often include references to their subjects having been plagued by ill health. Proust comes to mind (spent a lot of time in bed!).

    It’s all unknowable, of course, but I suspect this thing has been around a long time. Incidence might well be increasing, though, as halcyon implies.
     
  4. roller

    roller wiggle jiggle

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    somewhere i read the whole shit started when people settled, became farmers.

    as they had contact with soil before, veggies probably too, it may have been the close proximity/living with animals?
     
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  5. daisybell

    daisybell Senior Member

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    I wonder if the incidence has increased simply due to the fact that we don't die of other illness/disease at the same rate we used to. Is all autoimmune disease more common now, just because we are living long enough for the immun system to go wrong? Certainly people die of cancer more I think, because they don't die of infections at the same rate.
     
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  6. Chrisb

    Chrisb Senior Member

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    Incidence might have appeared to increase based in the UK on the setting up of the NHS and elsewhere with insurance based schemes. It must have been apparent that medical or quasi medical practitioners would have had no efficacious remedies and most patients would not have had the means to pay for continued useless consultations. This is mere conjecture. There would be no way of knowing.

    There would remain the possibility that ME in one, or some, of its forms has been around for many years but that new, undifferentiated conditions might have led to an apparent increase in incidence of the disease.
     
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  7. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Nobody has a definitive answer to this question. ME is often put as definitively starting in 1934, but if you read closely several people came down with it up to two years earlier.

    Look at how often we get diagnosed now, in our "enlightened" age. Look at misdiagnoses. Look at how long it takes. Doctors now are mostly unable to diagnose us in a timely fashion. Prior to last century it would have been lumped with other ailments or diseases. There is no way to separate ME out from a diagnosis of Neurasthenia, for example, in the 19th century.

    This could go back millions of years but we just don't have the records.

    Now if we instead ask if the incidence and prevalence of ME and CFS is changing, that is a different question. Its really hard to say. With biomarkers we might be able to. It certainly seems as if the prevalence is increasing, but we are looking from a biased perspective. So its a big maybe. Until we know the cause any consideration of what is driving increase is very speculative. There are so many potential factors, so many things wrong in the modern world.
     
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  8. Marky90

    Marky90 Science breeds knowledge, opinion breeds ignorance

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    Certainly seems plausible that e.g autoimmune diseases increase due to environmental factors that comes with modern living. It`s all a big experiment on the human body, and some will pay the price.
     
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  9. Chrisb

    Chrisb Senior Member

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    There are interesting questions to be found here relating to the nature of ME. The suspicion is that the psychobabblers regard ME as neurasthenia-wishing to imply that it is an illness of neurotics, if not hysterics. More interesting is whether cases of neurasthenia were ME.

    Neurasthenia was reported following dysentery, trench fever and unidentified febrile illnesses. Trench fever is caused by Bartonella quintana, closely related to Bartonella henselae. Should these cases be classified as ME? It would perhaps be unwise to suggest that such illnesses have prior right to use of the term neurasthenia.
     
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  10. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member

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    https://raisingawarenessforcfs.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/celebrities-with-cfsme/


    Florence Nightingale – English Nurse – Her illness began in 1896 after she returned from the Crimean War and spent years housebound, too fatigued to talk to more than one visitor at a time. Her birthday –May 12 1820- is celebrated as International ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.
    Charles Darwin – English Naturalist- When he arrived back in England after travels to South America and Pacific Islands, he started suffering from what has been described as fatigue, pains, abdominal troubles, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, etc. Medical journals suggest that he may have had ME/CFS.
    Marie Curie – Polish-born French Physicist and Chemist- At the age of 15 she suffered from what has been described as fatigue, exhaustion and nervous troubles, after graduating with honours from high school. The illness left her feeling extremely lethargic and she spent a year recuperating in the Polish countryside.
     
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  11. unto

    unto Senior Member

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    if Darwin had the ME it seems hard to believe that the cause might be environmental pollution .....

    we are more "sensitive" just because "a seed" hit our nervous system ....
    ME is simply an infection.

    the incidence of ME is certainly on the increase .... (personal insight) :confused:
     
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  12. roller

    roller wiggle jiggle

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    and very very likely its even the same old culprits.
    same old - as we have since day 1. :confused:
     
  13. Sidney

    Sidney Senior Member

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    I have definitely thought that Proust's narrator's Tante Léonie was an obvious CFS sufferer - but I may not be an impartial observer.
     
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  14. Skippa

    Skippa Anti-BS

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    I too am fond of the hygiene hypothesis. At the very least I think it shows that the body is quite willing to rebel against the neat little clean bubbles we have created for ourselves.

    Also, are there any CFS/ME sufferers that don't have at least one allergy?
     
  15. halcyon

    halcyon Senior Member

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    I don't have any.
     
  16. Skippa

    Skippa Anti-BS

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    Well that shoots that theory up the bum then!

    Wot, not even pollen or timothy grass or house dust mites?
     
  17. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    Yes, I think this is the most likely explanation.

    Given that the major trigger of ME is infection, there are no major reasons why it would only be a modern illness.
     
  18. halcyon

    halcyon Senior Member

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    The only thing I can think of that bothers me a bit is pet dander.
     
  19. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    I don't get allergic reactions in the usual sense (as I understand it) but I have some very marked intolerances. Gluten makes me ill, but I don't think the symptoms I get fit an allergy pattern. I'm a bit vague on the difference between allergies and intolerances, but it seems like my body just can't handle certain things or defend against them (mold). Not sure what I'm saying here but ... oh, whatever :)

    Nice theory, regardless. As Peter White would say, don't give up on a theory just because it's wrong.
     
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  20. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    I always thought the difference was: intolerances make you (very) ill, whereas allergies can kill you (anaphylactic shock)...
     
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