MESSAGE FROM THE COALITION ON COVID-19:
Concerns have been raised about the potential for ME/CFS to develop in COVID LongHaulers, those still ill months after a COVID-19 infection. In this article, coalition members Drs. Anthony Komaroff and Lucinda Bateman discuss the link between longCOVID and ME/CFS. We recommend ME/CFS be considered in the differential diagnosis of these patients. Read the US ME/CFS Clinician Coalition Letter for more information.
What is ME/CFS?
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, commonly referred to as ME/CFS, is a disabling disease characterized by a significant impairment in daily function, exertional intolerance, sleep abnormalities, orthostatic intolerance, cognitive dysfunction, and profound fatigue. Significant functional limitations in physical exertion, cognitive processing, memory, attention, sensory processing, and social interaction are common. The hallmark and seemingly pathognomonic symptom is “post-exertional malaise” (PEM), in which baseline symptoms are exacerbated by physical or cognitive exertion, often for a prolonged period after the exertion has been completed. An estimated 1 to 2.5 million Americans have ME/CFS and as many as 75% are unable to work or attend school. The estimated annual cost to the American economy is $18-24B in direct medical costs and lost productivity.
Yet, ME/CFS remains highly misunderstood and all too often stigmatized by the medical community, leaving those suffering from this illness frequently feeling abandoned or ignored by traditional medicine. As many as 90% of ME/CFS patients do not receive a diagnosis within the first five years of the onset of their illness.
Fortunately, recent progress within both translational and clinical research has led to advances in our understanding of the underpinnings of the pathophysiology of the illness as well as in clinical treatment strategies that can improve the lives of patients afflicted with this illness.
ABOUT THE ME/CFS CLINICIAN COALITION
The Coalition is committed to improving clinical care for patients with ME/CFS by advancing best clinical practices, providing education for the medical community, expanding the pool of medical providers with strong expertise in ME/CFS, and providing clinical insights for researchers.
If you are a medical provider and interested in learning more, we encourage and look forward to hearing from you and to assisting you in whatever manner possible.