MEDICAL MATTERS

  • Medical Matters features questions asked by Members of the ME Association on health-related topics.
  • Dr Charles Shepherd and the ME Association's other advisers answer these questions by sharing their expert knowledge.
  • Medical Matters is based on the popular ‘Ask the Doctor’ series in ME Essential magazine.
  • It is a free resource that supplements the detailed information contained in the full range of literature that can be found in the website shop.

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Questions in the Category: Activity

Management: Fitness

ME Essential Winter 2021

Can I ask what the advice is on heart health for people with ME? As most of us can’t exercise, how do we maintain a healthy cardiovascular system? Is a healthy diet enough?

The 2021 NICE Guideline ME/CFS: Regrets

ME Essential Autumn 2021

I know you feel that the new NICE guideline is a major improvement on the first one. So do I. But do you have any concerns, disappointments or disagreements on the content?

Disability Classification

ME Essential Autumn 2020

How does the government define a disability? Does the government classify ME/CFS as a disability? I ask because I assume that this could have important implications for people who are having problems with benefits, education or work.

Management: Swimming

ME Essential Autumn 2020

Like some people with ME/CFS I’ve made a significant degree of improvement over a number of years. I’m fairly stable, mobile, able go for longish walks, and manage to do some part-time work. A well-intentioned friend who goes wild water swimming has suggested that I ‘give it a try’. She claims it can have all kinds of health benefits, including “resetting body clocks that have gone wrong”. She even pointed me to some research about the benefits of cold water swimming for conditions such as arthritis. I’m very open-minded about trying anything that might work. But I’m concerned that this could actually make ME/CFS worse.

Functional Limitations: Energy

ME Essential Summer 2020

I have a diagnosis of both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia. For the last couple of months I get a weird thing happening. I can be fine one minute but the next I struggle to keep my eyes open. It’s as though someone has drained all the energy out of my body and I usually end up falling asleep for a few hours. I don’t even have to have done anything but just sitting in my chair. Is this normal for ME/CFS? Or is it something else?

Diabetes

ME Essential Summer 2018

Knowing that lack of exercise and weight gain are two things that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, is this type of diabetes more common in people with ME? I ask because I noticed I was getting thirsty, drinking more water than usual, and was also passing urine more frequently. I went to see my GP for some blood and urine tests and she confirmed that I had developed type 2 (non insulin requiring) diabetes. The good news is that a change in diet and weight loss are definitely bringing things under control and it doesn’t look as though I am going to need treating with drugs.

Prognosis: Progressive

ME Essential Summer 2018

I’m in my late forties and have had ME for over 10 years. For the past few years it has been fairly stable with occasional exacerbations, normally when I get an infection. But I’ve recently noticed a gradual deterioration in almost all of my ME symptoms. I don’t have any new or unusual symptoms and there are no obvious reasons for this deterioration in health – infection, stress etc. I’m reluctant to see my GP – who knows very little about ME – but I am starting to feel concerned.

Blood Flow: Oxygenation

ME Essential Summer 2018

I know there has been some interesting research involving neuroimaging studies and that this has demonstrated defects in blood flow to certain key parts of the brain. But does this research mean that people with ME/CFS have low levels of oxygen entering the brain? If so, does it also explain some of the key brain symptoms – cognitive dysfunction in particular? And could it lead to new forms of drug treatment?

Is there anything else you could recommend for these excruciating muscle cramps?

ME Essential Summer 2017

Muscle pain has always been a significant part of my ME. But I've now developed painful episodes of muscle cramp — especially at night. My GP has prescribed quinine —which has helped a bit. Is there anything else you can recommend that might help?

Shall I give hydrotherapy a go?

ME Essential Spring 2017

My physiotherapist has suggested that I might like to use of the hydroils therapy pool at a local hospital. I have been making fairly steady progress over the past year (with the occasional short relapses) and used to really enjoy swimming — something that I haven't done since becoming ill with ME three years ago. The physio says that the changing facilities are good, the water is warm, the atmosphere is relaxed and nobody is encouraged to do anything that they do not feel comfortable with. So why not give it a try?

Dr Charles Shepherd

Dr Shepherd has been Trustee and Hon. Medical Adviser to the ME Association for more than 40 years. He is integral to the charity's activities and provides information and support based on his professional knowledge, personal experience as a doctor with ME/CFS, and the understanding gained from helping many thousands of people with the condition. He was a member of the comittee responsible for the 2021 NICE Clinical Guideline and is a recognised expert on ME/CFS in the UK. His knowledge extends to Post-Viral Fatigue Syndromes (PVFS), Myalgic Encephalopathy/Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) or Long Covid.

If you have questions about ME/CFS or Long Covid, you can: 

  • Review the free information in the What is ME/CFS? section of the website, and the free Covid-19 and Long Covid information in the website shop.
  • Review the largest range of literature covering all aspects of living with ME/CFS. Download detailed information about symptoms, diagnosis, management, co-mordities, employment, education, related health conditions, The 2021 NICE Clinical Guideline, welfare benefits etc.
  • Join the ME Association as a member and you'll receive the highly-rated ME Essential magazine, and you can ask questions of the charity’s expert advisers including Dr Shepherd.
  • Contact us via the ME Connect Telephone Helpline (open 365 days a year) and speak to one of the national team of fully-trained volunteers who waiting to provide information and support. 
  • Contact us via email or social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn

Medical Matters is based on the popular ‘Ask the Doctor‘ series featured in the highly-regarded member’s magazine, ME Essential, and in the healthcare professional magazine, ME Medical. Both are produced by the ME Association and published as hard-copy magazines every 3 months and sent to members and healthcare professionals by post to home or business addresses. 

If you are an HCP you can sign-up here to receive ME Medical magazine (people with ME/CFS can also nominate their HCP by completing the sign-up form). 

Please note: The answers comprising Medical Matters were accurate at the time of printing. A publication date accompanies all listed entries. We will endeavour to keep Medical Matters updated as information changes, but if you would like to comment, please email: contact@meassociation.org.uk

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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