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: Weight Loss

Treatment: Thiamine

ME Essential Autumn 2021

There are “medical people” on the internet claiming that high doses of a supplement called thiamine are a safe and effective new treatment for ME. What is thiamine? Is there any evidence to support this claim? And could taking high doses of thiamine cause any harm?

Addison's Disease

ME Essential Summer 2020

I was interested to see the item on Addison’s disease in the Winter issue of ME Essential as I have a close friend with this rare disease and it obviously has some interesting symptom overlaps with ME/CFS. So is there any evidence that adrenal gland failure, and steroid hormone production, could also be involved in ME/CFS? If so, would it be worth looking at steroids as a possible form of treatment for ME/CFS?

Rheumatoid Arthritis

ME Essential Winter 2020

I’ve always had occasional joint pains since developing ME/CFS three years ago but they are definitely getting more frequent and painful. As both my mum and aunt have rheumatoid arthritis, I’m worried that I may also be developing arthritis. My GP isn’t too concerned as there isn’t any swelling or signs of inflammation, but I’m still not happy. What is the difference between joint pains in ME/CFS and true arthritic joint pain?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

ME Essential Spring 2019

Like many people with ME I also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I have the MEA information leaflet on IBS and have had most of the treatments listed for my various bowel and stomach symptoms. But my symptoms are getting worse, especially the bloating, stomach pain and back pain. My fatigue levels have also increased. I am female, in my early 50s, and have had IBS symptoms for about three years. Do you have any other suggestions?

Diet and Nutrition: Restrictive Diets

ME Essential Autumn 2018

All kinds of strange and restrictive diets are recommended for people with ME/CFS. I know of people who have cut out loads of different food groups, especially dairy, gluten and meat. Some of them have lost weight and made themselves worse as a result. So is there any evidence that any of these restrictive diets can be helpful? And what are the potential problems?

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.

Mental Health: Depression

ME Essential Spring 2018

Like many other people with ME/CFS, I often feel fed up and frustrated by all the restrictions this illness imposes on my life. But I don’t feel depressed. I now have a new bright GP who thinks I am depressed and he wants me to try a course of antidepressants – to see if they make me feel happier! I know I would feel happier if I just felt well again. But I’m not convinced that I need antidepressants to do so!

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?

Charles Shepherd

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