ME can affect anyone from young children to middle-aged adults, and it’s estimated that one million Americans have it. Although women are more likely to develop ME, people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status are susceptible to the disease. Children as young as 10 years old can be affected as well, which makes it more difficult to determine the prevalence. Unfortunately, most medical providers aren’t aware of the disorder, so diagnosis is often difficult.
ME symptoms can vary greatly from one patient to the next. Some people have very mild disease, while others have more severe symptoms. Patients with ME often experience significant fluctuations in their physical and cognitive functioning. Some people experience relapses, which can lead to permanent worsening of their condition. Although ME is not contagious, it can be fatal if not treated in time. While there are numerous treatment options available, doctors believe that proper diagnosis is key to the successful treatment of the disease.
The CDC’s website for ME/CFS includes several recommendations based on the Institute of Medicine. Patients should be assessed for frequency and severity of symptoms. If symptoms are not present 50% of the time, a diagnosis of ME/CFS should be questioned. Alternatively, a doctor can conduct tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms, including anaemia, underactive thyroid gland, liver and kidney disease. While these tests are not necessary for diagnosis of ME/CFS, they are helpful in determining whether a patient is suffering from it.
The Institute of Medicine has recommended a new name for the disease in the United States and to give it a clinical definition. The recommendations were generally well received in medical journals, but a recent study by Jason et al (2015) analyzed these proposals in a more critical way. The majority of the public in the United Kingdom reject the new name for ME. The new name has been suggested by a government advisory committee but most people do not accept it.
The World Health Organisation classifies ME as a neurological disorder, and most doctors accept it as a diagnosis. The disease can affect multiple body systems, and the symptoms vary from person to person. Most patients experience an initial infection and then develop a relapsing illness. A World Health Organization report states that a ten percent chance of developing ME is in people with a serious illness. The number of ME patients is estimated at 15-30 million worldwide.
Doctors have no specific cure for ME/CFS. However, doctors can help patients with the symptoms of ME/CFS by modifying their daily activities. This type of therapy breaks up activity into short bursts and rest periods, and aims to leave the patient feeling rested at the end of the day. In addition to pacing, there are some medicines available that can help those suffering from ME/CFS. The best way to get a diagnosis is to talk to your doctor, who will probably be able to give you a diagnosis.