M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is a debilitating disease characterised by severe, disabling fatigue and post-exertional malaise. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Disturbed, unrefreshing sleep or altered sleep patterns
- Poor memory and concentration
- Digestive problems
- Unusual headaches
- Flu-like effects
A hallmark of the condition is that symptoms are usually worsened with minimal physical and mental exertion.
M.E. is often referred to and diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS). The compromise term M.E./CFS is now commonly used, although there is debate and uncertainty as to whether it refers to a single, discrete condition.
Much is continually being discovered about M.E./CFS. It is a condition affecting the body’s neurological system, causing it to act unpredictably. The trigger can be one of certain infections or groups of viruses; immunisations; or environmental toxins. A physical or emotional shock or a period of overload may be contributory factors.
Currently, the NHS in Scotland provides some limited services for those with M.E./CFS, although more are being developed. Many sufferers help themselves by learning to balance activity with rest, and make use of NHS or private doctors, health professionals or complementary therapists as advisors in their journey towards recovery.
According to the Chief Medical Officer’s Working Group Report, published in 2002, “Each individual is best managed according to a unique flexible management plan, in which specific strategies and therapies are tailored to his or her particular circumstances.”
M.E., CFS and PVFS are all neurological conditions recognised by the World Health Organisation.