ME is a difficult disease to diagnose. Currently, there is no test that is FDA-approved to diagnose ME, and it often takes years for the disease to be diagnosed. About 90 percent of those with ME do not receive a proper diagnosis, as their symptoms are confused with other conditions. Many health care professionals also misdiagnose people with ME and tell them that they are not ill. However, with the help of medical professionals, ME sufferers can get the proper diagnosis.
Although ME has many different causes, the main symptom of the disease is a persistent malaise. It can last for weeks to months and may be triggered by physical activity. Symptoms may also be caused by mental overexertion or sensory overload. Regardless of the cause, people with ME will experience a significant loss in physical and cognitive functioning. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, with many experiencing more disability than health benefits.
While the causes of ME are still unclear, recent research suggests inflammation in the brain may be a contributing factor. However, more studies are needed to fully understand the biology of the condition. In the meantime, patients are encouraged to seek medical attention and join a support network. For example, the international network MEAction was formed by patients to fight for health equity.
Some healthcare professionals are increasingly accepting of the diagnosis of ME/CFS. According to the World Health Organization, ME is a neurological illness. There is a brochure on the condition that can be used by healthcare professionals. In the UK, most physicians recognize it as a serious and disabling condition. Currently, there is no official diagnostic test for ME, but the disease is widely accepted.
Symptoms of ME may be sudden or may develop over time. A proper diagnosis requires assessment of severity and frequency of symptoms. If symptoms are not present at least 50% of the time, the diagnosis of ME/CFS should be questioned. The CDC’s website also includes an informative leaflet called the Pacing Leaflet. This leaflet provides a gentle introduction to ME, how it can affect patients, and what the disease is like. It also provides guidance on emotional wellbeing.
ME/CFS is a debilitating illness that can take months or even years to develop. Often, an underlying bacterial or viral infection triggers the symptoms. Herpesviruses, enteroviruses, and Q fever have all been implicated. However, there are still several questions surrounding the cause of ME/CFS and its treatment.
While research is underway, many clinicians rely on clinical judgment to diagnose the condition.