ME – snapshots for professionals


Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a chronic, debilitating disease with progressive or fluctuating course. (#MEAction)

Compelling research evidence of physiological and biochemical abnormalities identifies ME/CFS as a distinct, biological clinical disorder. (Canadian p1)

Pathophysiology: Profound dysfunction/dysregulation of the neurological control system results in faulty communication and interaction between the CNS and major body systems, notably the immune and endocrine systems, dysfunction of cellular energy metabolism and ion transport, and cardiac impairments. (ICP p1)


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy) (ME) is a relatively common illness. The physical symptoms can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions. CFS/ME places a substantial burden on people with the condition, their families and carers, and hence on society. (NICE 2007)

Post-exertional malaise (PEM) can help distinguish ME from other diseases. PEM is a significant and prolonged worsening of all symptoms after sustained physical or mental activity. It’s important to know that overexertion can damage a patient’s health, sometimes permanently – and that patients cannot be cured by gradually increasing their exercise over time.  (#MEAction)

Symptoms – In addition to post-exertional malaise, unrefreshing sleep, cognitive dysfunction and/or orthostatic intolerance, many patients experience a range of other neurological, autonomic, and immunological symptoms either as a permanent feature of their illness or during a “crash” or flare. These symptoms include:

• Pain in the muscles and joints
• Headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
• Cognitive symptoms such as confusion, difficulty retrieving words, poor working memory, spatial instability, and disorientation

• Sensitivity to light, sound or vibration, taste, odor or touch
• Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or abdominal pain
• Muscle fatigability, weakness and fasciculation; poor coordination and ataxia

•Autonomic and endocrine symptoms such as poor temperature regulation, cold or heat intolerance
•Immune symptoms such as tender lymph nodes, recurrent sore throats, fevers, or flu-like symptoms, and new food or chemical sensitivities (#MEAction)

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