It can be difficult to find a doctor who knows how to diagnose and treat chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis. Unfortunately, many doctors still don't believe it is a real illness, attributing its symptoms to psychological problems. And even those who do believe it's real often don't know a great deal about treating ME/CFS patients.
In an effort to correct this situation, the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IACFS/ME), the largest group of physicians and researchers dedicated to ME/CFS, has released the ME/CFS Primer for Clinical Practitioners directed at primary care physicians and other health care providers.
The 42-page 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 ME/CFS.
Treatment suggestions covering an array of symptoms.
Post-exertional malaise, a symptom unique to ME/CFS, and activity management.
Sections on special populations/situations (e.g. severely affected patients, pediatric ME/CFS, pregnancy, pre-operative care, etc.).
"CFS/ME affects at least one million people in the US yet up to 80 percent 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.
Although they do request a $15 donation to help support IACFS/ME’s continuing advocacy efforts for increased scientific research and improved patient care, you can download the Primer without making a donation.
This is the best, most concise collection of accurate information on ME/CFS I've seen. If you have ME/CFS, I think you'll find it helpful for both you and your doctor.
“Scientific Organization Releases Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Guidelines to Educate Health Care Providers.” IACFS/ME. 29 May 2012. Press release.