- Last Updated: 07 November 2015 07 November 2015
Linking findings to symptoms
Just a glance back at the four symptom clusters enumerated earlier will demonstrate how well Bell's new research findings account for CFIDS/ME abnormalities: blood pooling in the extremities, low body-wide blood volume, and resulting low blood flow to the brain have obvious implications for fatigue, neurology problems, pain, and sensitivities. (Regarding alcohol intolerance, for example, just imagine a PWC's blood alcohol level after two drinks if the patient has 50 to 70 percent of normal blood volume! Likewise, the low volume could spur over-sensitivity to drugs, histamine, etc.). Even healthy people, Bell noted, are instructed to lie down after donating blood to the Red Cross, because of the possibility of fainting and lightheadedness resulting from orthostatic hypotension.
Making sense of mish-mosh
Given that some PWCs seemingly suffer only from low plasma levels and others only from low RBC mass, the mixed treatment results at Johns Hopkins begin to make sense: "The only thing that Florinef affects is blood volume," Bell noted. Therefore, the 50 percent of Florinef responders may likely have been those with the lowest blood volumes, not with NMH per se. Bell noted that one of the Johns Hopkins subjects treated with Florinef went from a pre-medication functioning level of 20 to 40 percent, quickly recovered on Florinef, and then stayed at 100 percent for two full years, even after discontinuing the drug. She later experienced a relapse, went back on Florinef, and recovered completely in two weeks (she is now, not surprisingly, staying on Florinef!). "Such a rapid recovery is a remarkable finding and clearly not explained by chance but instead by the drug," Bell said.
Bell also spelled out how his findings could explain many of the signs and symptoms that have seemed like a random mish-mosh until now. To name just one: SPECT scans of PWCs frequently show "holes" in the brain; these represent areas of insufficient blood flow. (MRI abnormalities, too, could be the result of low blood volume.)