What is ME/CFS?

Here is a great description taken from FatigueAnswers

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) Symptoms represent an acquired complex and debilitating disorder that is characterized by profound fatigue and cognitive problems which do not improve with bed rest and becomes worse with physical and mental exertion. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Symptoms represent a physiological illness, involving neurological endocrine and immune system dysfunction with involvement of the nervous system. The symptoms can vary in intensity with each individual. For many, the illness may cause negative social and economic consequences and often results in long-term disability. Adding to the distress of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Symptoms, sufferers sometimes feel polarized among the medical community as to the authenticity of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. This causes very difficult and stressful situations for many in the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis community, and one that should not occur because Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is an authentic illness. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Symptoms can mimic those of the flu and other viral infections, so it is often mistaken for other disorders. At first Myalgic Encephalomyelitis may be misdiagnosed as hypochondria, psychosomatic illness, or depression, because routine medical testing does not detect any problems.

The major criteria used to distinguish Myalgic encephalomyelitis:

  1. Persistent fatigue that does not improve with bed rest and is severe enough to reduce average daily activity by at least 50% for at least six months.
  2. When Symptoms are made worse by exercise.
  3. When other chronic clinical conditions such as psychiatric disorders can be ruled out.

Other Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Symptoms can include:

Physical Symptoms:
  • Muscle weakness and pain, especially in the shoulders, upper arms, thighs
  • Muscle twitching
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness/pins and needles
  • Tender swollen lymph nodes, particularly underarms and neck
  • Joint pain
  • Poor circulation (cold hands and feet)
  • Chronic sore throat, often with recurrent flu-like symptoms
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sensitivities (to light, touch, food, chemicals, perfume, paint etc.)
  • Alteration of taste and smell
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Dryness of mucous membranes (throat, mouth ,eyes)
Cognitive Symptoms:
  • Poor concentration
  • 'Foggy' thinking
  • Difficulty speaking and choosing words appropriately (for example saying, black when you mean white)
  • Poor memory
Nervous Disorders:
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
  • Depression
  • Mood swings, anxiety
  • Feeling 'disoriented'
  • Personality changes (usually a worsening of a previous mild tendency)


In case you are curious, here is the official CDC definition of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Please note that the CDC (wrongly) considers CFS of psychological origins and does not think that CFS and ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) to be the same thing. However, attitudes in the US are now slowly changing (for the better) as the NIH has recently (tentatively) grouped the two together and is aligning itself with the way the UK health system views it.