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Third Of ME Cases Wrongly Diagnosed

A Medical Expert Believes A Third Of People With ME Are Being Wrongly Diagnosed


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A leading professor believes as many as a third of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) are being misdiagnosed.

Professor Julia Newton, from the University of Newcastle's Institute for Ageing and Health, said as many as 80,000 people with ME might have Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS), reports the Daily Mail.

The disease, which can be treated with a variety of lifestyle changes and drugs, is very difficult to diagnose but can cause sufferers to feel dizzy, tired and depressed.

"I would think that around one third of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, if they were properly tested, would have PoTS," Professor Newton told the Telegraph.

"PoTS is an abnormal response of the nervous system, but it is a spectrum, so some people will feel dizzy on standing, while others will actually black out."
Professor Newton studied 136 PoTS sufferers between 2009 and 2012 and found that well-educated women were the most likely to fall victim to the nervous system problem, leading to its more common nickname "yuppie flu".

Those severely affected by the disease can end up bedbound because of how serious their fatigue is, but the majority live perfectly normal lives.

Professor Newton wants the differences between ME and PoTS to be more thoroughly explored, as the latter is more treatable and can be dramatically improved through a course of beta blockers.

Sonya Chowdhury, chief executive of the charity Action for ME, told the Daily Mail: "The findings are really interesting. We know that misdiagnosis is a big issue and are aware of the association with PoTS."

Anyone who believes they may be suffering from the symptoms of PoTS is advised to make an appointment with their GP so that other illnesses which cause fatigue can be ruled out.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms on the physiological spectrum and is symptomatic of diseases as serious as lung cancer, or as mild as insomnia and workplace stress.

Expert Opinion
The comments by Professor Julia Newton are worrying as it is important that any illnesses are correctly diagnosed as quickly as possible so that the patients can receive the best possible targeted treatment.

“It can be difficult to diagnose illnesses associated with fatigue as it can be an indicator for many different conditions.
The important thing is that doctors and local GPs understand the differences between similar diseases so that they can ensure the correct treatments are implemented to help patients.

“According to Professor Newton, more research is needed into the differences between the illnesses and we would welcome measures to improve the accuracy of diagnosis.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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