Diagnosing ME – Part 1
In my opinion, there are many causes for ME/Cfs but not all of them are known. There are several theories out there and not all of them are accepted. I am going to list some of them based on my experiences with CFS. As with other diseases, certain triggers could result in an exacerbation of your ME/CD symptoms. If you have experienced an outbreak of ME before, you may want to avoid such trigger(s).
It is possible that ME/Cfs is due to a direct effect of a chemical or biological change in the individual’s immune system. ME/Cfs shares some characteristics of other autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis), such as Lupus. When your immune system is “balanced”, it should be able to prevent inflammation and other harmful side effects, such as fatigue, pain, irritability, depression and memory loss. It should also be able to suppress the symptoms of ME, CFS, or other similar conditions. However, a malfunctioning immune system can result in “triggers” that can cause significant and life-threatening changes in someone who has ME/CD.
A few possible causes for ME include a deficiency of B vitamins, such as biotin; a deficiency of vitamin B12, such as magnesium; a malfunctioning or damaged nervous system, such as a brain tumor; and viral or bacterial infections. Viral infections include Myxomatosis and Q fever. Brain tumors are more likely to result in a positive diagnosis of ME than other possibilities. If someone tests positive for ME/Cfs after having received a confirmed diagnosis of any of these infections, they should receive a thorough medical examination to rule out other diseases.
Other possible ME/Cfs symptoms include unusual tiredness, extreme fatigue or lethargy, persistent depression, or feelings of guilt (for being sick), as well as muscle pain or discomfort in the arms or legs. Because of the uncertain nature of ME and its potential for misdiagnosis, it’s important to note that there have been many cases of false-positive ME diagnoses. For this reason, many people suffering from ME wish to avoid the chance of a false-positive result, especially if they’ve had a previous run-in with ME. A ME test can help clarify whether or not someone’s symptoms are those of ME and help them determine if they need further evaluation or testing.
As noted above, ME and CFS share many common characteristics, including an underlying deficiency in B vitamins, magnesium, and biotin; although these deficiencies are not generally considered a cause for either condition. However, there are also several sub-groups of symptoms, which are considered separately in diagnosis. The difference between the ME/CFIDS sub-group and the other ME categories is the frequency and severity of the symptoms. This is why a separate diagnosis is required: each sub-group represents a specific finding that only ME and CFS could reflect.
As you can see, getting a definitive diagnosis of ME and CFS can be difficult. Although most symptoms can be explained by another illness or disease, sometimes the exact cause of the patient’s ME/CFIDS symptoms is unknown. For this reason, a combination of diagnostic tests including blood tests, urine tests, and muscle biopsy is needed in order to accurately get a correct diagnosis. Fortunately, most patients improve with time and get better, but anyone who suffers from ME should be aware of the possibility that their illness may be ME, and that they should seek out a competent professional if it’s confirmed. If you think you may have ME, talk to your health care provider immediately.