What is M.E.?

M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis) is a long-term fluctuating illness that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. Within the NHS, it is often known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or CFS/ME).

M.E. affects people in different ways and to differing degrees. It can be very severe. It’s a very variable illness and symptoms can change over time. Many people with M.E. experience persistent fatigue or pain but M.E. is also characterised by a range of additional symptoms. These can include sleep disturbance, digestive problems, various flu-like symptoms, and problems with memory and concentration.

The prevalence of ME is generally thought to be 0.4%, i.e. 250,000 adults and children in the UK. As NICE Guideline 53 makes plain, this is a real illness, with symptoms that can be as distressing as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many similar chronic conditions. It is categorised by the World Health Organisation as a neurological illness.

For more information, please see the M.E. Association and Action for M.E. websites.

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