We can learn about long COVID from years of diagnosing and treating ME/CFS

We can learn about long COVID from years of diagnosing and treating ME/CFS

MEA Comment

This is a really good article from researchers involved in ME/CFS, highlighting the similarities (and differences) between Long Covid and ME/CFS. As the ME Association has been saying since the emergence of Long Covid, there is much that Long Covid researchers can learn from ME/CFS and the research already published in this field. We look forward to a more collaborative approach to research and to healthcare, using the NICE Guideline on ME/CFS as an excellent reference tool. Funding for Long Covid has been significant given the prevalence (an estimated 1.8million people in the UK alone) and concerns over the provision of continuing healthcare. It would make sense to use this money to try and better understand ‘both' diseases. We welcome grant applications to the Ramsay Research Fund.

Russell Fleming Communications Manager
Member of The DHSC Living with ME/CFS Working Group (2022-23).


While some long COVID symptoms are unique (microclots, lung scar tissue, or organ damage due to acute infection), most resemble the clinically very similar disorder myalgic encephalomyelitis, more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Looking at how chronic fatigue syndrome is managed has proved useful in managing long COVID, with the current management guidelines closely mimicking each other.

This includes educating and supporting patients to manage and monitor their symptoms, rehabilitation from a multidisciplinary team (which may include physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and others), and modifying lifestyle and work routines.

Techniques often used in chronic fatigue syndrome are also likely to be useful in long COVID patients. These may include activity-pacing, sleep hygiene, pain medication, and increasing fluid and salt intake, which can help manage rapid increases in heart rate experienced by some patients when they get up from sitting or lying down.

It may also be beneficial to refer long COVID patients to clinicians with expertise in chronic fatigue syndrome, particularly for health professionals who are less familiar with treating post-viral fatigue syndromes.

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