What is Myalgic Encephalopathy?
Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) also known Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) has been classified as a neurological disorder by the World Health Organisation and is no longer regarded as an ‘imagined’ condition. Myalgic encephalopathy a severe, acquired and complex illness. It is only since 2003 that the diagnosis has been formally recognised. However the cause, which is probably multifactorial, remains in doubt.
There is, however no doubt that myalgic encephalopathy can follow an acute, often acute viral, infection, such as glandular fever or ‘flu-like’ illnesses, but also incriminated are factors such as food intolerance and exposure to pollutants. Other triggers may include an operation or an accident, although some people experience a slow, insidious onset.
Myalgic encephalopathy is often associated with other medical conditions, especially fibromyalgia and ‘multiple chemical sensitivity’
Who it affects
Estimates of the number of people with the condition vary from 7 to 3,000 per 100,000 adults. About one million Americans and a quarter of a million people in the UK have ME / CFS. All types of people at all ages can be affected, although it’s more common in women than men. Myalgic encephalopathy usually develops when people are in their early 20s to mid-40s. Children can also be affected, usually between the ages of 13 and 15.
Myalgic Encephalopathy Symptoms
Severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances, poor memory and concentration are commonplace.
There’s no test for myalgic encephalopathy / chronic fatigue syndrome but there are clear guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to help doctors diagnose the condition. It can take a long time for it to be diagnosed, as other conditions that cause similar symptoms need to be ruled out first. You may have blood tests, urine tests and scans to rule out other conditions, such as anaemia (lack of red blood cells), an underactive thyroid gland, or liver and kidney problems.
Myalgic Encephalopathy Treatment
There is currently no accepted cure and no universally effective treatment. The failure to have discovered the cause, and therefore having no proven treatment has led to sufferers of ME turning to complementary and alternative medicine. Recent clinical research reported in the British Journal of Nutrition (2013) has suggested that “oxidative stress” probably plays a part and the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) have in the 2014 “Pathways to Prevention Workshop” suggested that the cause may be linked to oxidative stress/immune dysfunction.
Myalgic Encephalopathy Prevention
Despite the uncertainty regarding precise causation, the Association of UK Dieticians recommend that a balanced healthy diet is likely to be extremely helpful in countering the signs and symptoms of myalgic encephalopathy.
It is my opinion that ME is yet another autoimmune disease and that auto antibodies will be discovered which will confirm this suspicion, namely that the cellular pathology is due to immune dysfunction with telomere shortening and nuclear disintegration and inflammation. Inflammation due to free radical damage is in my opinion responsible for most disease processes and the most effective defense is the provision of antioxidants, rather than the use of immunosuppressive drugs with all their unpleasant side-effects.
I have followed a concept which provides a regular daily supply of good quality antioxidants for the past 15 years and recommend this regime to my patients in an attempt to prevent degenerative disease, including those discussed in my articles.
A diet which provides a constant source of a wide range of good quality antioxidants is likely to reduce systemic inflammation and therefore lessen the need for the often toxic medications currently employed in the treatment of ME as well as the other chronic inflammatory diseases. To find out about how to improve your diet, sign up for my eBook.
- What is ME/CFS? http://www.meassociation.org.uk/about/what-is-mecfs/
- Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): Diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in adults and children: http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG53