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: Migraine

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.

Menopause

ME Essential Spring 2020

I’m in my late forties and have had mild to moderate ME/CFS for several years. Over the past few months I’ve been feeling more tired than usual, my concentration has got worse, I often feel hot at night and I have vaginal dryness. Not surprisingly, my doctor has decided that I’m entering the menopause and has recommended HRT - which I’m reluctant to use as I don’t like taking drugs. I’ve also found that what used to be only occasional attacks of migraine have become a much more regular occurrence. Is this unusual? Or can the menopause have an adverse effect on both ME/CFS and migraine-type headaches?

Treatment: 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

ME Essential Winter 2019

An alternative health practitioner has recommended that I take a 5-HTP supplement for my muscle pain and headaches, but I’m very wary of upsetting my heart and nervous system - especially my heart rhythms which are all over the place at the moment. Is there any evidence that this supplement, which I had never even heard of, is both safe and effective for use in ME?

Symptom: Tremor

ME Essential Spring 2018

I understand that a tremor, or shaking in the hands, sometimes occurs in ME/CFS. But it could also be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. I’m in my mid fifties and have had moderate ME/CFS for about five years. It is fairly stable but the tremor, which is in both hands and tends to be more noticeable when I’m fatigued, has only been present for a few weeks. Should I see my GP?

Treatment: Drugs and Weight Gain

ME Essential Spring 2018

Although taking a low dose amitriptyline has been very useful in reducing some of my pain and helping to correct my very erratic sleep pattern (frequent wakening during the night) I’ve put on a considerable amount of weight since taking this drug. My GP says that weight gain is a well recognised side-effect with this type of drug and that it can also occur with other drugs that are used for pain relief. I know from talking to other people with ME that weight gain can be a major problem with some drug treatments for ME. But why is this so? And are there any solutions?

Jaw pain and ME/ CFS – is there a link?

ME Essential Winter 2017

I’ve been having pain in and around my jaw for several months. My GP can’t find anything wrong but I’ve read that there is a condition called temperomandibular joint disorder which causes jaw pain and is said to be more common in ME. Is this true? And what can I do when I have a GP who doesn’t seem to know anything about how to diagnose or treat this condition?

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.
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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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