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Living with M.E.

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Treatment and management

Treatment and management

While there is no single pharmaceutical cure for M.E., there are a number of treatment approaches that may help you manage your symptoms. 

Because of the complexity of the illness, its fluctuating nature and the wide spectrum of symptoms, different things work for different people. Action for M.E. does not recommend any individual treatments or management approaches for people with M.E. Instead, we offer key information to allow people with M.E. to make informed decisions.

We hope that the following information enables you to have an informed discussion with your healthcare professional. Any decision regarding treatment or care should be made in partnership with you.

As the NICE guideline for M.E. states, common components of all treatment approaches for M.E. should include advice from your healthcare professional on:

  • sleep management
  • the role of rest and relaxation.

Treatment approaches should never include:

  • an imposed rigid schedule of activity and rest – flexibility is key
  • unsupervised or unstructured vigorous exercise – this may worsen symptoms
  • specialist approaches delivered by practitioners who have no experience of M.E.

What’s the evidence?

NHS Choices says: 

“Doctors recommend treatments based on evidence from research and their own experience with other patients. The evidence includes information on how well treatments work, what side effects or complications they have, and how they interact with other treatments.”

Some scientific evidence may indicate that one form of treatment approach is better than others.

When considering the treatment approaches available, it’s important to examine the details of the evidence, ask if there are any concerns about it, and weigh up what this means for you as an individual.

For example, we know that there has not been any large-scale trials looking into effective treatments for those who are severely affected by M.E. (that is, mostly bed- and/or house-bound).

You can find more details about management approaches for M.E. in our Q&A section, including: