ME/CFS patients often report being extremely sensitive to light, sound and odors. It’s as if all of their senses have kicked onto overdrive. For them, going to a mall can be an overwhelming experience. They feel bombarded by all of the lights, crowd noise and strong odors from food courts, perfume counters and candle shops. Some have found it helpful to wear earphones and use an iPod or CD player to listen to calming music when they are out in public. This helps block out crowd and traffic noises and allows them to focus on the music.
Some ME/CFS patients are also hypersensitive to touch (allodynia). In fact, some are so sensitive that even wearing clothes hurts. They generally stick to clothes made from very soft fabrics and often buy one size larger so the clothes don’t cling to their bodies.
Certain fabrics and clothing such as Goodnighties
have been created to help ease skin sensitivity.
This hypersensitivity can lead to both mental and physical overload. When mentally overloaded, patients may have difficulty making decisions and find they are no longer able to multi-task. Physical overload can result in impaired coordination, dizziness, clumsiness, numbness, tingling and nausea.