Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affecting BYU community


    By Kim Brauning

    Over 300 students fell victim to a condition known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome last year, said Brent Barnett, a professor in the Business Management Program at BYU.

    In a recent lecture at the BYU Health Center, Dr. Ron McBride, who specializes in the study and treatment of FMS, said the term “The Mormon Disease” has been coined for the condition.

    According to Barnett, who currently suffers from FMS, there is no theory to explain the prevalence of FMS among Mormons.

    It is a genetic kidney defect that affects at least 5 percent of the national population, said Barnett.

    In fact, the National Fibromayalgia Research Association Web site shows that over six million Americans suffer from FMS and over 90 percent of these people are women.

    FMS is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, said Barnett.

    “The syndrome really manifests itself in two forms,” Barnett said. “In women, they have a lot of pain in the muscles, but in men … they just experience fatigue.”

    Barnett said the symptoms can be different, but the fundamental cause is the same. The kidneys have the same problem in both cases, said Barnett.

    However, FMS is often misdiagnosed. According to McBride, it is a difficult condition for doctors to diagnose because there are so many symptoms and they are all unrelated.

    Emily Mangum, 24, of Provo, suffered from FMS for four years before she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at age 16.

    “It took a lot of work to get diagnosed,” said Mangum. “My parents took me to a lot of doctors who basically diagnosed me after they had ruled out everything else.”

    According to Mangum, her symptoms included getting sick easily, muscle aches, headaches, low blood pressure, and dizziness.

    Barnett described two levels of diagnosis. First, he said, one might be diagnosed with depression because of the extreme fatigue. Second, a person is diagnosed with FMS when muscle pain plays a factor as well.

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