What exactly is ME/CFS?

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a disease that has been known for more than 70 years and has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease of the nervous system - with the same classification code as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

The disease condition primarily affects young to middle-aged adults and more often women than men. Those affected are often previously completely healthy and active people. ME/CFS is usually preceded by a flu-like illness or other viral infection that results in a severely disabling physical and mental exhaustion.

The name ME means a neuropathology that consists of muscle pain (myalgia) and inflammation of the brain (encephalomyelitis). Although inflammation in the brain has not been detected in all patients, the use of ME is preferred by many as the term CFS to some extent reduces the severity of the disease, therefore the term ME/CFS is used as a term.

Clinical examination and routine blood tests do not provide an obvious explanation for muscle pain and pathological fatigue. Typical symptoms are cognitive dysfunction, muscle pain, fatigue and recovery disorder even after light physical or mental exertion. The symptoms vary in frequency and severity from patient to patient.