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: Side-effects

Osteoporosis

ME Essential Summer 2022

I have several family members who have developed osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) in later life - some of whom have had nasty fractures as a result - and I understand that people with ME may be at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Why is this? Is there anything we can do to reduce this happening? And is there any treatment for osteoporosis?

Vaccines: Shingles

ME Essential Winter 2021

As I’m 70 I’ve been offered the shingles vaccine. I have had ME since 2016, consider myself to be severe, and already suffer from nerve pain. So I do not want to make things worse. But I’m also aware of people with ME who have had a significant exacerbation of symptoms following a vaccination. So should I have this vaccine?

The 2021 NICE Guideline ME/CFS: Drug Treatments

ME Essential Autumn 2021

Comparing some of the recommendations on the use of specific drugs in the new NICE guideline to those in the previous 2007 NICE guideline, I see that melatonin is no longer given a possible recommendation for sleep disturbance in the 2021 guideline and the “do not use” instruction in the 2007 guideline no longer applies to antiviral drugs, fludrocortisone, steroids and thyroxine. Does this mean that doctors can no longer prescribe melatonin but that they can now prescribe amphetamines, antiviral drugs, steroids, etc for people with ME?

Treatment: High-dose Vitamin C

ME Essential Summer 2020

I have read about the use of high dose vitamin C injections being used to treat people with coronavirus infection. Could this also be used to treat ME?

Treatment: Tryptophan

ME Essential Spring 2020

I’ve read that taking a tryptophan supplement is helpful for people with ME. Is this true? And are there any side-effects?

Treatments: Prescribed Drugs and Informed Consent

ME Essential Winter 2020

In addition to ME/CFS I have developed both arthritis and osteoporosis and now require drug treatment for these two conditions. I was recently prescribed a new and fairly powerful drug that soon exacerbated a number of my ME/ CFS symptoms. However, I received no warning that this was something that could happen. As a result, the drug had to be stopped and changed to another one that I was able to tolerate. This upset might have been avoided if my doctor had also considered the potential side-effects a bit more carefully, and discussed them with me, before writing the prescription. Why doesn’t this happen?

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?

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. 
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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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