Of the 240,000 people who have myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), more than three quarters (77%) have lost their jobs because of their illness, costing the nation £6.4bn a year, new research suggests.
About 55,000 people in the UK are so severely affected by ME that they are bed-bound or house-bound.
Trish Taylor, chair of Action for ME, which published the survey as part of an awareness campaign said: “ME robs people of their ability to work and destroys their close relationships. It leaves many in wheelchairs and some have to be tube-fed.”
The survey found that more than one third of the public has never heard of ME, which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The illness particularly affects the nervous and immune systems. Many sufferers experience constant pain, and most believe that an infection was the cause.