What is M.E.?

M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis) is a long-term fluctuating physical illness that causes symptoms affecting many of the body’s systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. Within the NHS, it has often been known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or CFS/ME) but more recently the term ME/CFS has become more prevalent, as fatigue is in fact only one of its many symptoms. 

M.E. is a very variable illness and symptoms tend to change over time. It affects people in different ways and to differing degrees. It can be very severe, and some patients can be effectively imprisoned in their beds for months or even years. Many people 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.

In 2015, the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report stated ‘ME/CFS is a serious, chronic, complex and systemic disease that frequently and dramatically limits the activities of affected patients. In its most severe form, the disease can consume the lives of those whom it afflicts. It is not appropriate to dismiss these patients by saying, “I am chronically fatigued, too.”’

M.E. is categorised by the World Health Organisation as a neurological illness. More information can be found on the M.E. Association website.

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