Excerpts from an article by a former physician who has M.E./CFS
M.S., M.E. AND YOU
By S. Anderson, M.D.
... research has found the cause of CFIDS/ME and it is the same as multiple sclerosis (M.S.)
How does one diagnose M.S.? A medical history is taken, a physical that usually produces no abnormalities that jump out at a physician, blood tests to exclude anything else it may be, neurological tests and even an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be taken. In other words, it is diagnosed the same way that CFIDS/ME is! The regular blood tests come out normal. Slight neurological abnormalities may be noted such as allodynia which is sore or tender skin or Babinski's reflex.
Early signs of M.S. are often mistaken for other disorders including stress, a transient ischemic attack, a tumor, or a vitamin B-12 deficiency and misdiagnosis is common such as vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), Lupus or Lyme Disease. Indeed, these are all common misdiagnoses found in CFIDS/ME and both M.S. and CFIDS/ME patients are commonly told to see a psychiatrist in the beginning! ... In M.S., all parts of the nervous system can be attacked so the symptoms can vary just as they can and do in CFIDS/ME.
Among the symptoms [of M.S.] listed are primarily "fatigue", followed by muscle weakness and numbness, pain, vision and speech problems, cognitive decline, and bladder and bowel dysfunction. These are all familiar to all those with CFIDS/ME.
CFIDS/ME is not M.S. but it may well be another form of M.S. and may be found to be a more severe subset of M.S. since those with CFIDS/ME generally are known to suffer daily much more than patients with M.S.
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If CFS and MS have essentially the same symptoms, then why do MS patients get sympathy and respect, while CFS patients are verbally abused and told to get back to work? The answer is, better PR. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind nowadays that MS is a "real disease". Meanwhile, for years the media have engaged in a campaign to discredit CFS as depression or psychosomatic, aided and abetted by the silly name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome imposed by CDC to minimize another tragic epidemic too soon on the heels of AIDS.
CDC put out PSAs five weeks ago, finally acknowledging that CFS is "real". Yet the only time I have seen those PSAs on either of the two stations I watch most (CNN and NBC) was a snippet during the news on the day they were released. Not one word about "CFS is real" in our local newspaper. Hardly a sufficient press campaign to undo 20 years of slurs.
Perhaps if the word gets out about the similarities between CFS and MS, we'll get more respect.