Despite myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) affecting millions of people worldwide, many clinicians lack the knowledge to appropriately diagnose or manage ME/CFS. Unfortunately, clinical guidance has been scarce, obsolete, or potentially harmful. Consequently, up to 91% of patients in the United States remain undiagnosed, and those diagnosed often receive inappropriate treatment. These problems are of increasing importance because after acute COVID-19, a significant percentage of people remain ill for many months with an illness similar to ME/CFS. In 2015, the US National Academy of Medicine published new evidence-based clinical diagnostic criteria that have been adopted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, the United States and other governments as well as major health care organizations have recently withdrawn graded exercise and cognitive-behavioral therapy as the treatment of choice for patients with ME/CFS. Recently, 21 clinicians specializing in ME/CFS convened to discuss best clinical practices for adults affected by ME/CFS. This article summarizes their top recommendations for generalist and specialist health care providers based on recent scientific progress and decades of clinical experience. There are many steps that clinicians can take to improve the health, function, and quality of life of those with ME/CFS, including those in whom ME/CFS develops after COVID-19. Patients with a lingering illness that follows acute COVID-19 who do not fully meet criteria for ME/CFS may also benefit from these approaches.
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.