Myalgic Encephalomyelitis



This is a debilitating illness and can change a persons whole life. The loss of quality of  life can be astounding to non-sufferers and/or family members.Coming to terms with this illness is a battle that a sufferer will deal with every day while learning to adjust and cope. 


ME causes persistent fatigue (severe tiredness) that affects a sufferers daily life and doesn't go away with sleep or rest. It is a serious condition that can cause long-term illness and disability, but many people – particularly children and young people – improve over time.

What is ME?

ME is a name derived from Myalgic (the muscle symptoms) Encephalopathy or Encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord).  A lot of doctors prefer to use the title CFS (Chronic Fatgue Syndrome).

The title ME/CFS is now commonly used in the UK.

Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) has sometimes been used to describe early stages of this illness.

Most people with ME/CFS fall into one of the following groups:

  •  Those who manage to return to completely normal health, although it may take some time to get back to normal. The amount of sufferers who fall into this group is quite small.
  • The majority of sufferers have good and bad periods. Relapses or a worsening of symptoms which are caused by infections, temperature changes, operations or stressful events.
  • A minority of sufferers who are severely affected may need a lot of help and social support.
  • A few, who keep deteriorating, should have a detailed medical assessment to rule out other causes as this is uncommon in ME.

The name debate:



Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is more often used and preferred by doctors because there is not much evidence of brain and spinal cord inflammation, as the term ME suggests but the use of the name ME is also thought to be too specific to cover all the symptoms.


Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is more often used by people who feel that CFS is far too general a name which does not reflect the severity and different types of fatigue. It also shows that fatigue is not the only symptom.

What is the cause of ME/CFS?

The exact cause of ME/CFS is not known.


It has been suggested that the following may be the cause:


  • a viral infection
  • problems with the immune system
  • an imbalance of hormones
  • psychiatric problems, such as stress and emotional trauma
  • some people are thought to be more susceptible to the condition due to their genes, as the condition can be common in particular families.

Research is ongoing to establish what causes the condition.




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