There is no medical laboratory test currently available to detect M.E. Doctors diagnose the illness by assessing your medical history, recognising the typical symptom pattern of M.E. and conducting basic tests, for example on blood or urine samples, to rule out other conditions.
Many illnesses can sound quite similar in their symptoms and excluding other conditions is a usual part of the process of reaching a diagnosis.
You may need to make several visits to your doctor before a final diagnosis is made. NICE guidelines (for England and Wales) and NHS Scotland guidelines say that a provisional diagnosis should be made within three to four months.
The earlier that your illness is recognised, the sooner you can begin to manage and treat your symptoms.
Defining M.E. for diagnosis or research has been the subject of much debate. A recent summary of the different criteria was published in the Scottish Public Health Network's Health Care Needs Assessment of services for people living with M.E.-CFS in Scotland (see p 34 and table 5.1 on p 40).
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