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.

“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…”

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

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 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.

If you prefer you can download the leaflet here without registering via the website shop.


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.