IACFS/ME releases new guidelines for chronic fatigue syndrome

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The International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IACFS/ME), the largest group of physicians and researchers dedicated to chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), has released updated care guidelines directed at primary care physicians and other health care providers. The document, "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: A Primer for Clinical Practitioners," can be accessed at: https://www.iacfsme.org/

"CFS/ME affects at least one million people in the US yet up to 80% of them have not yet been diagnosed. Medical providers are often uncomfortable diagnosing and treating these patients and patients tell us that they frequently have difficulty finding a knowledgeable physician. We hope that the Primer will help solve these problems," states Dr. Fred Friedberg, IACFS/ME President. 

The Primer highlights areas that have not been emphasized in the past including:

  • A summary of pathophysiological effects
  • A user-friendly diagnostic worksheet utilizing the Canadian Consensus Criteria for CFS/ME
  • Treatment suggestions covering an array of symptoms
  • Post-exertional malaise, a symptom unique to CFS/ME, and activity management
  • Sections on special populations/situations (e.g. severely affected patients, pediatric CFS/ME, pregnancy, pre-operative care, etc.)

CFS/ME commonly strikes healthy people following a flu-like illness, leaving them with severe exhaustion, muscle pain, joint pain and memory and concentration problems among many other symptoms. The term "CFS" is most commonly used in the United States while other countries may use "ME" instead. People of both sexes and all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds can become ill. Sufferers are often more functionally impaired than people with heart failure, multiple sclerosis or HIV. Because the cause of CFS/ME has not yet been discovered, no one knows how to prevent or effectively treat the illness, meaning many patients are disabled for decades. According to a 2008 DePaul University study, CFS/ME drains $18-24 billion annually from the U.S. economy due to decreased work productivity, lost tax revenue, increased health care expenditures, and disability payments.

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