Also called a “crash,” postexertional malaise means sudden worsening of physical and/or cognitive symptoms of myalgic encephalomyelitis at some point after physical or cognitive exertion. Example: I drive 60 minutes and 10 minutes after arrival must lie down because of exhaustion and a pounding headache. The symptoms and interval between exertion and malaise onset vary among patients. In any case, the worsened symptoms are worse than what healthy people feel after “overdoing it.” Ways to slightly lessen the effects of postexertional malaise include resting extra before and after the exertion and respecting the limits of one’s normal energy budget.
I hope this makes caregivers and health sciences students more understanding of myalgic encephalomyelitis patients’ limitations and invisible struggles. Ask me any questions in the comments.
Darla Nagel is an editor and writing tutor who has an invisible chronic illness. She wants to help other patients and enlighten health care professionals about our experiences. If you’d like to receive quarterly updates from her, sign up by emailing email@example.com.