Diagnosis – Importance of Early & Accurate Diagnosis


In this free 6-page leaflet, we explain why an early and accurate diagnosis is so important in ME/CFS. We examine the core symptoms, and the need to take into account a patient’s clinical history. We review the need for clinical investigations and blood tests, and consider other explanations for persistent symptoms.


“ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) is a complex multisystem disease with a population prevalence of at least 0.2% to 0.4%. So it probably affects between 2 and 4 per 1,000 of the population and up to 265,000 people in the UK.

“There is a wide range of severity at all stages of the illness. Around 25% are severely affected at some stage – being house-bound or bed-bound – and this can create additional challenges when making a diagnosis.

“Many people experience a long delay in obtaining a formal diagnosis which can hamper effective management and adversely affect prognosis.

“‘Fatigue’ is a very common symptom and some people with ‘chronic fatigue’ are being
misdiagnosed with ME/CFS when they have another, sometimes perfectly treatable, explanation.

Topics discussed in this leaflet, include:

  • Why is making an early and accurate diagnosis so important?
  • Taking a good clinical history
  • Diagnostic criteria and characteristic core symptoms
  • Physical examination
  • Baseline investigations
  • Further assessment and investigation
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Timescale
  • Children and Adolescents
  • Specialist referral
  • Further information and research references

“ME/CFS is a distinct clinical entity with a characteristic set of core symptoms. It should not be used as a diagnostic label for people with unexplained chronic fatigue…”

Telephone Helpline

The ME Association telephone helpline – ME Connect – is available every day of the year, during the hours of 10am-12noon, 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm. Please phone: 0344 576 5326 if you have any questions or would simply like to talk to someone who is there to listen.

Please note this leaflet is a download. You can read it on-screen and save to your computer, phone or other device and can attach it to any email you might need to send. But you will need access to a printer if you wish it printed.


0344 576 5326

Available every day of the week between these times: 10am - 12noon, 2pm - 4pm and 7pm - 9pm.

Calls cost the same as other standard landline numbers (starting 01 or 02). If you have a call package for your landline or mobile phone then calls will normally come out of your inclusive minutes.