Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is NOT the same thing as 'CFS.' The terminology is often used interchangeably, incorrectly and confusingly. However, the DEFINITIONS of M.E. and 'CFS' are very different and distinct, and it is the definitions of each of these terms which is of primary importance. M.E. is also not at all the same thing as ‘ME/CFS,’ ‘CFS/ME, ’ 'ME-CFS,’ ‘CFIDS,’ or ‘Myalgic Encephalopathy.'
It is important to be aware that Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and 'CFS' are not synonymous terms and should not be used interchangeably, and that 'fatigue' is not a defining nor even essential feature of M.E. M.E. is defined by a variety of serious (testable) neurological, cardiac, cardiovascular, metabolic and other abnormalities - not by mere 'fatigue.'
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a distinct, scientifically verifiable and measurable, acute onset, organic neurological disease. ‘CFS’ in contrast, is not a distinct disease. ‘CFS’ doesn’t exist. Every diagnosis of CFS – based on any of the CFS definitions – can only ever be a misdiagnosis.
CFS was created in the 1980s in the US in response to an outbreak of what was unmistakably M.E., but this new name and definition did not describe the known signs, symptoms, history and pathology of M.E. It described a disease process that did not, and could not exist. The fact that a person qualifies for a diagnosis of 'CFS' (a) does not mean that the patient has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), and (b) does not mean that the patient has any other distinct and specific illness named ‘CFS.’
The bogus disease category of ‘CFS’ has undoubtedly been used to impose a false psychiatric paradigm of M.E. by allying it with psychiatric fatigue states and various unrelated fatigue syndromes for the benefit of insurance companies and various other organisations and corporations which have a vested financial interest in how these patients are treated, including the government.
The terminology is often used interchangeably, incorrectly and confusingly. However, the DEFINITIONS of M.E. and CFS are very different and distinct, and it is the definitions of each of these terms which is of primary importance. The distinction must be made between terminology and definitions.
People with chronic fatigue may be tired because of cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, vitamin deficiency, a sleep disorder, depression or a large number of other reasons. Fatigue or chronic fatigue is a symptom of many illnesses. Up to 20% of the population may currently suffer from some form of chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is an artificial construct created in the US in 1988 for the benefit of various political and financial vested interest groups. It is a mere diagnosis of exclusion (or wastebasket diagnosis) based on the presence of gradual or acute onset fatigue lasting 6 months. If tests show serious abnormalities, a person no longer qualifies for the diagnosis, as ‘CFS’ is ‘medically unexplained.’ A diagnosis of ‘CFS’ does not mean that a person has any distinct disease (including M.E.). The patient population diagnosed with ‘CFS’ is made up of people with a vast array of unrelated illnesses, or with no detectable illness. According to the latest CDC estimates, 2.54% of the population qualify for a ‘CFS’ (mis)diagnosis. Every diagnosis of ‘CFS’ can only ever be a misdiagnosis.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is not merely a symptom, or a syndrome, but is instead a distinct disease. It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since 1969 as a distinct organic neurological disease with the code G93.3. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a systemic acutely acquired illness initiated by a virus infection which is characterised by damage to the brain stem (a nerve centre through which many spinal nerve tracts connect with higher centres in the brain in order to control all vital bodily functions) which results in dysfunctions and damage to many of the body’s vital systems and a loss of normal internal homeostasis. Substantial evidence indicates that M.E. is caused by an enterovirus. The onset of M.E. is always acute and M.E. can be diagnosed within just a few weeks. M.E. is an easily recognisable distinct organic neurological disease which can be verified by objective testing. If all tests are normal, then a diagnosis of M.E. cannot be correct.
M.E. is primarily neurological, but symptoms may also be manifested by cardiac, cardiovascular, immunological, endocrinological, respiratory, hormonal, gastrointestinal and musculo-skeletal dysfunctions and damage. More than 64 distinct symptoms have been authentically documented in M.E., several of which are unique to the disease. Fatigue is not a defining nor even essential symptom of M.E. People with M.E. would give anything to be only severely ‘fatigued’ instead of having M.E.
M.E. can occur in both epidemic and sporadic forms and over 60 outbreaks of the illness have been recorded worldwide since 1934. M.E. can be extremely disabling and in some cases the illness is fatal. M.E. is a chronic/lifelong disease that has existed for centuries. It shares similarities with MS, Lupus and Polio. Far fewer than 0.5% of the population has the distinct neurological disease known since 1956 as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
The only thing that makes any sense is for patients with M.E. to be studied ONLY under the name Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – and for this term ONLY to be used to refer to a 100% M.E. patient group The only correct name for this illness – M.E. as per Ramsay/Richardson/Dowsett and Hyde, and the 60+ outbreaks of M.E. recorded worldwide, and so on – is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
M.E. is not synonymous with CFS, nor is it a subgroup of CFS. (There is no such thing as a subgroup of CFS; there is no such disease/s as "CFS.’) M.E. is not a primarily fatiguing condition, nor is it a wastebasket diagnosis or ‘medically unexplained’ as ‘CFS’ is. Sub-grouping different types of ’CFS,’ refining the bogus ‘CFS’ definitions further or renaming ‘CFS’ with some variation on the term M.E. would achieve nothing and only create yet more confusion and mistreatment.
The problem is not that ‘CFS’ patients are being mistreated as psychiatric patients; some of those patients misdiagnosed with CFS actually do have psychological illnesses. There is no such distinct disease/s as ‘CFS’ – that is the entire issue, and the vast majority of patients misdiagnosed with CFS do not have M.E. and so have no more right to that term than to ‘cancer’ or ‘diabetes.’
There is no such disease as ‘CFS’ – that is the entire issue. The vast majority of patients misdiagnosed with ‘CFS’ do not have M.E. The only way forward, for the benefit of society and all patient groups involved, is the bogus disease category of ‘CFS’ must be abandoned completely (along with the use of other vague and misleading umbrella terms such as ‘ME/CFS,’ ‘CFS/ME, ’ 'ME-CFS,’ ‘CFIDS,’ ‘Myalgic Encephalopathy' and others).
Science, logic and ethics must prevail over mere financial and political concerns.
To read or download an extended and fully referenced version of the above text, please see the What is M.E.? page.
For more information on issues to do with the terminology of M.E., and of 'CFS,' please see: Who benefits from 'CFS' and 'ME/CFS'?, Why the disease category of 'CFS' must be abandoned, Problems with the so-called "Fair name" campaign: Why it is in the best interests of all patient groups involved to reject and strongly oppose this misleading and counter-productive proposal to rename 'CFS' as 'ME/CFS'’ and Problems with the use of 'ME/CFS' by M.E. advocates. See also: The terminology explained
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