Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) In The Young. Time To Repent

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By Ola Didrik Saugstad in Wiley Online Library.

 

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/ Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disease with symptoms from multiple organ systems. The severity of these symptoms ranges from mild to severe with the most severely affected confined to a dark room to achieve sensory deprivation. Two incidence peaks have been described between age 10‐19 years and 30‐39 years, respectively. Typically women are more often affected than men in a 3:1 ratio.1

In spite of such severe symptoms, ME is poorly understood and for years has been a controversial condition. However, in 2015 a paradigmatic change occurred when the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now known as National Academy of Medicine in United States, based on analysis of more than 9.000 peer‐reviewed studies, concluded that ME/CFS is a serious chronic multisystem and biological disease that substantially limits the activities and quality of life of patients.2 This report paved the way for an extensive commitment to biomedical ME research by National Institutes of Health (NIH). Four NIH‐funded centres in the United States—of these, one serves as a Data Management and Coordinating Center—were established focusing on immunological, microbiological, genetic and epigenetic as well as inflammatory aspects of the illness. The NIH has tripled its research funding for ME/CFS from $5 million in 2014 to $16 million in 2018. Published data from these centres and other research groups were recently summarised by Komaroff,3 and these results have contributed to the shift in focus from a previous psychosomatic to a biomedical understanding of ME.

 

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