Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. People with ME/CFS are often not able to do their usual activities. At times, ME/CFS may confine them to bed. People with ME/CFS have severe fatigue and sleep problems. ME/CFS may get worse after people with the illness try to do as much as they want or need to do. This symptom is called post-exertional malaise (PEM). Other symptoms can include problems with thinking and concentrating, pain, and dizziness.
According to an Institute of Medicine (IOM) reportexternal icon, an estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans suffer from ME/CFS. However, most of them have not been diagnosed.
CDC is working with partners and stakeholders to better understand post-COVID conditions and how they affect people with ME/CFS. Currently, there are limited data and information about the long-term effects of COVID-19. A recent report found that COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness, even among adults without underlying chronic medical conditions. Future studies will help identify whether some people with delayed recovery develop an ME/CFS-like illness.
It is especially important for people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to protect themselves. Currently, ME/CFS is not included in the list of medical conditions that increase risk of severe illness from COVID-19. However, people with ME/CFS might consider taking extra precautions to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19. We are learning more about COVID-19 every day. As new information becomes available, CDC will continue to update our recommendations and guidance.
Facts and possible causes
Information for patients and families
Managing symptoms and activities; coping
Learn how ME/CFS affects kids
CDC has partnered with Medscape to offer three continuing medical education (CME) activities for healthcare providers. All courses can be accessed by either a desktop computer or a mobile device.
- ME/CFS: A Case-Based Learning Moduleexternal icon (Author: Steven Gluckman, MD)
- ME/CFS: Test Your Strengths and Gaps in Knowledgeexternal icon (Author: Nancy Klimas, MD)
- Diagnosing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Experts Weigh Inexternal icon (Authors: Lucinda Bateman, MD; Natalie Azar, MD; Nancy Klimas, MD; José Montoya, MD)
- Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illnessexternal icon
- NINDS/CDC Common Data Elements (CDEs) for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)external icon
- Disability and ME/CFS
- ME/CFS: Making strides to enhance the lives of those living with ME/CFS
- Our Global Voices: CDC Team Takes ME/CFS Around the Word
- NIH Director’s Blog: Moving Toward Answers in ME/CFS, March 2017external icon
- NIH ME/CFS websiteexternal icon
- CFS Advisory Committee to HHSexternal icon
- FDA Voice of the Patient pdf icon[PDF – 267KB]external icon
- ME/CFS clinical trialsexternal icon