Information for Healthcare Providers
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex, chronic, debilitating disease with systemic effects. ME/CFS is characterized by reduced ability to perform pre-illness activities that lasts for more than 6 months and is accompanied by profound fatigue, which is not improved by rest. A hallmark of ME/CFS is that symptoms can worsen after physical, mental, or emotional effort, a manifestation known as post-exertional malaise (PEM). Patients with ME/CFS also have unrefreshing sleep. Other common manifestations are orthostatic intolerance, cognitive impairment, and pain. As can be observed in people with other long-term chronic illnesses, secondary psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety may also be present in some patients with ME/CFS.
ME/CFS educational resources to help healthcare providers with patient care, including assessment, managing ME/CFS symptoms and providing other supportive strategies to improve patients’ quality of life.
- Handout: ME/CFS Assessment Overview Table [PDF—1 page]
- Handout: What is ME/CFS? [PDF—1 page]
- Handout: What are ME/CFS symptoms? [PDF—2 pages]
- Handout: Managing Specific Symptoms [PDF—2 pages]
- Handout: Managing Post-exertional Malaise (PEM) [PDF—1 page]
- Handout: Other Supportive Strategies [PDF—2 pages]
CDC has partnered with Medscape to offer five continuing medical education (CME) activities for healthcare providers. All courses can be accessed by either a desktop computer or a mobile device.
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Diagnosis and Management in the Age of COVID-19: Expert Insights (Authors: Anthony L. Komaroff, MD; Lucinda Bateman, MD; David M. Systrom, Jr., MD) New
- Update on the Clinical Evaluation and Care of Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [2 MB, 8 pages] (Author: Benjamin Natelson, MD)
- A Fresh Look at Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management of a Multisystem Illness (Authors: Benjamin Natelson, MD; Donna Felsenstein, MD; Mitchell Miglis, MD; Dale Strasser, MD)
- ME/CFS: A Case-Based Learning Module (Author: Stephen Gluckman, MD)
- ME/CFS: Test Your Strengths and Gaps in Knowledge (Author: Nancy Klimas, MD)
- Diagnosing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Experts Weigh In (Authors: Lucinda Bateman, MD; Natalie Azar, MD; Nancy Klimas, MD; José Montoya, MD; Valid for credit through: 3/17/2022)
- Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness. In 2015, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now National Academy of Medicine (NAM), published this, in which the IOM committee summarized the evidence base and proposed redefining the diagnostic criteria to facilitate timely diagnosis and to improve understanding of the illness among healthcare professionals and the public. Additional resources include:
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline on ME/CFS: diagnosis and management
- CDC Expert Commentary: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It’s Real, and We Can Do Better
- CDC Medical Student Resources
- IACFS Primer for Clinical Practitioners
- U.S. ME/CFS Clinician Coalition
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosis and Management in Young People: A Primer. Front. Pediatr., 19 June 2017.
- NINDS/CDC Common Data Elements (CDEs) for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
- Clinical Practice Guidelines for ME/CFS 2016, Alberta, Canada [PDF – 1.01 MB]