Royal College of Anaesthetists launch new leaflet on ME/CFS at conference

It is day 2 of a 3-day conference hosted by the Royal College of Anaesthetists. The ME Association and patients with ME/CFS have been working with the College to produce a patient information leaflet that is being launched this afternoon in a talk by Professor Anton Krige and Dr Charles Shepherd: ME/CFS Implications for Anaesthesia. We hope this ongoing work with the College will raise awareness and understanding of ME/CFS among anaesthetists and help people with the condition when they need surgery in hospital.

ME/CFS and Anaesthesia

This resource aims to provide people with ME/CFS who need to have an anaesthetic or sedation with information about what they might expect at the different stages of the surgical journey, and what they can do to prepare, in collaboration with their healthcare teams.

It has been produced in collaboration with people with ME/CFS who have shared their experiences of having an anaesthetic with us. Their input has helped us identify the most common questions and concerns that people with ME/CFS may have about having surgery.

This resource may also be helpful to people who are affected by long COVID, because some of the symptoms associated with these conditions are similar to those experienced by people with ME/CFS.

What is ME/CFS?

ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) is a complex chronic medical condition that affects multiple body systems. It often develops after a viral infection commonly in previously healthy individuals.

It is thought to affect around 250,000 people in the UK – including children and adults – and is more common in females. ME/CFS impacts on all aspects of daily life. It is estimated that around 25% of people with ME/CFS have a severe or very severe form whereby they are largely or totally house-bound or even bed-bound.

Symptoms include all or some of the following:

■ debilitating fatigue which, is worsened by activity
■ post exertional malaise after activity in which symptom exacerbation is often delayed and is disproportionate to the activity
■ cognitive dysfunction and ‘brain fog’
■ disrupted sleep
■ muscle, joint or nerve pain
■ dysautonomia (orthostatic intolerance and/or postural tachycardia syndrome [PoTS])
■ drug sensitivities
■ problems with regulating body temperature.

There is no effective drug treatment and management of the condition relies on activity and energy management (pacing) and controlling symptoms.

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