Thursday 5 May 2022

Factors that Cause Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) – what causes ME?

It is not known what exactly causes Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), but there are several theories, for example, it may be triggered by an infection, or certain factors could make you more likely to develop the illness. The debate surrounding the pathogenesis (the origination and manner of development of a disease) of ME has continued for decades.

Suggested causes or triggers for ME include:
- viral infections, such as glandular fever, mononucleosis, respiratory tract infection

- bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, mycoplasma

- non-viral infections such as Coxiella burnetii/Q fever and bacterial meningitis

- problems with the immune system

- Immune system changes and stress affecting body chemistry - as a result of stress and emotional trauma as well as infection (low-functioning natural killer (NK) cells & differences in markers of T-cell activation, as well as changes to stress hormones e.g., cortisol have been noted in scientific studies on people with ME)

- changes in energy production (scientists have noted differences between people with ME and healthy people in the way cells in their bodies get their energy though more studies are needed to figure out how these findings may be contributing to the illness)

- The vagus nerve infection hypothesis accounts for why so many different infectious onsets could be responsible. The vagus nerve runs from the brain stem and throughout the body and has an impact on many body systems.

- Possible Genetic Link
Though ME has been reported to run in families and seems to be more common in some families, ME does not fall into the category of a genetic disease. Although ME is not considered an inherited illness, there is evidence of a genetic predisposition. Even though it can occur in family groups, it also occurs in groups whose only risk factor was being in the same place at the same time e.g., the Royal Free outbreak.

- Less commonly reported triggers include certain vaccinations, toxins, pesticide exposure, e.g., organophosphates and other pesticides. Environmental toxins have frequently been implicated as possible causes of ME, particularly in patients with gradual onset.

- In a minority, there may not be an identifiable precipitating factor, and the onset may be more gradual.

Each of the above theories generates its own research, its own series of tests, and its own treatment protocols. Some support the idea that a single pathogen e.g, a virus, produces the illness, while others hold the view that ME is environmental, e.g., the result of exposure to a number of toxins that damage the nervous and immune systems.
The predominant theory in the is that ME is caused by a virus. This theory is supported by history, incidence, and similarities to other ailments with viral etiologies (cause, set of causes, or origin of disease), notably mononucleosis and post-polio syndrome. A viral cause is supported by a considerable body of primary research.
Although risk factors for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) have been identified, no single definitive virus has been found in all cases, which has led to the claim that ME is a common end path of a variety of infectious insults.

If you would like to read more about the factors that cause Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) here’s a link below to a concise cache of information from an American ME group, AMMES which was founded by Erica Verrillo, a long-time ME patient and author.

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