Research: Life-Threatening Malnutrition in Very Severe ME/CFS

April 28, 2021

By Helen Baxter, Nigel Speight, William Weir


Very severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome) can lead to problems with nutrition and hydration. The reasons can be an inability to swallow, severe gastrointestinal problems tolerating food or the patient being too debilitated to eat and drink. 

Some patients with very severe ME will require tube feeding, either enterally or parenterally. There can often be a significant delay in implementing this, due to professional opinion, allowing the patient to become severely malnourished. 

Healthcare professionals may fail to recognize that the problems are a direct consequence of very severe ME, preferring to postulate psychological theories rather than addressing the primary clinical need. We present five case reports in which delay in instigating tube feeding led to severe malnutrition of a life-threatening degree. This case study aims to alert healthcare professionals to these realities.

Link to publication (open access): Life-threatening malnutrition in Very Severe ME/CFS

Link to MEA Leaflet: Nutritional Assessment & Malnutrition in ME/CFS

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