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ME/CFS Australia Ltd
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ME/CFS South Australia Inc supports the needs of sufferers of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related illnesses. We do this by providing services and information to members.


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Millions Of Women Are Living With 'Invisible Illnesses': Here's What That Means

Wednesday 17 April 2019


From Health magazine:



Millions of Women are Living With 'Invisible Illnesses': Here's What That Means

Millions of women who look perfectly healthy on the outside are grappling with chronic conditions that make “normal” life anything but. This is what it’s really like to have an invisible illness.

By Sunny Sea Gold
April 11, 2019
©, Copyright 2019 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

It's rare to see Carol Head, a longtime nonprofit executive, without her signature accessory: a sleek, black Fitbit. Like many health-conscious, goal-oriented women, Head relies on the tracker to count her steps—but it’s not because she’s trying to get more exercise. She wants to make sure she doesn’t get too much of it.

“I keep my steps under 4,000 a day,” she says. “I’d love to walk the five blocks to Starbucks on a beautiful afternoon, but if I exceed my threshold, I’ll have a hard time functioning at work the next day.”

Head, 64, is one of the estimated 2.5 million Americans with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). And she’s grateful she can work at all. Some of the women she’s met in her role as president and CEO of the Solve ME/CFS Initiative have been housebound for months, or even years, at a time—in part because their vague, complex, and frustrating symptoms have been down- played, misdiagnosed, or ignored by medical providers.

ME/CFS is one of a dozen or more “invisible illnesses”—such as Lyme disease, lupus, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease—that tend to strike women more frequently than men. “There’s no strict medical definition, but invisible illnesses are diseases that affect a person’s ability to conduct her life as she’d like to but that you can’t ‘see,’ ” explains Head. “People with these conditions often seem fine, and that creates all sorts of additional challenges, like being harassed for using a handicapped parking space or struggling to make friends understand the effort it takes to simply go out to dinner.”


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