Blue Ribbon for the Awareness of ME

About ME
ME Symptoms
May12 Poster
12 May 04/05
MP Letter '04
14 May 1998
1995 - 2005
Update 2005
Update 2003
Update 2002
Update 2001
CMO Report
ME Orgs Resp
NHS Review
Blue Ribbons
Contact us

Symptoms of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

(Also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)


To be classified as ME or CFS, the following criteria must be fulfilled and be present for at least 6 months:

A: Severe, debilitating and disabling fatigue, usually made worse post-exertion

- delayed onset of fatigue is characteristic of this illness

B: Plus 4 or more of the following main symptoms:

Main Symptoms

1. Impaired Cognitive Functions

  • inability to concentrate

  • calculation difficulties

  • memory disturbance

  • spatial disorientation

  • frequently saying the wrong word

  • being in a 'fog'

2. Chronic sore throat - often with recurrent flu-like illness

3. Tender and swollen lymph nodes - especially neck and underarms

4. Muscle pain

5. Multi-joint pain

  1. New headaches - often severe

  2. Non-refreshing sleep

  3. Post-Exertional Malaise


Other symptoms may include:

Nervous system problems

  • Sleep disturbance - insomnia, hypersomnia - often with vivid dreams or nightmares

  • Severe muscular weakness without muscle wasting

  • Paralysis or Paresis - weakness or short lived paralysis

  • Numb or tingling feelings

  • Twitching muscles

  • Changes in visual acuity and photophobia-intolerance to light

  • Changes to hearing - sensitivity to noise

  • Alteration of taste and smell

  • Tinnitus - ringing in ears

  • Disequilibrium - severe dizziness

  • Feeling 'spaced out' or 'cloudy‘

  • Blackouts

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Emotional lability - mood swings, may be related to fatigue


Other main symptoms may include:

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain

  • 'Irritable Bowel Syndrome', wind, diarrhoea

  • Weight change - usually gain - often 2 to 3 stone gain or loss

  • Temperature disregulation with cold hands and feet

  • Low-grade fevers, abnormally hot or cold

  • Symptoms worsened by extremes of temperature

  • Night sweats

  • Heart palpitations

  • Severe nasal and other allergies

  • Multiple sensitivities or allergic reactions to medicines, food and other substances

  • Severe premenstrual syndrome and exacerbation of all symptoms before and during periods in women


Other symptoms may include:

  • Rashes

  • Dryness of mucous membranes eg throat, mouth and eyes

  • Ulceration of mouth

  • Uncomfortable or frequent urination

  • Muscle spasms

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath on exertion

  • Disordered sensation in tongue - difficulty moving tongue

  • Intolerance of alcohol

  • Decreased libido and occasional impotence

  • Personality changes (usually a worsening of a previous mild tendency)

  • TMJ Syndrome - pain/tenderness on movement of jaw

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - pressure on nerves in hand with pain/tingling

  • Food cravings - especially carbohydrates

  • Finger/toe nails and hair stop growing

  • Hair loss

  • Slow healing process of cuts/scratches

This list is not exhaustive, during the course of your ME/CFS there may be other symptoms you need to add to this list.

If you feel able to highlight your particular symptoms, you may then use this list as a means of explaining how you are personally affected by ME/CFS, creating greater awareness and understanding amongst your family and friends of how complex and individualistic an illness ME/CFS is.

© Tanya Harrison 2004

Copyright © 2004  The contents of these webpages are copyrighted.