Dr Nina Muirhead is a British specialist surgeon in dermatology who has myalgic encephalomyelitis. She is a graduate of Oxford University, UK, and has written a number of popular medical textbooks. Dr Muirhead educates other doctors about ME/CFS and is part of Forward-ME, a group of UK charities and advocates for people with ME/CFS.
Eighteen months ago, after seeing thirteen different doctors and undergoing multiple tests and investigations, not only was I given a diagnosis of a condition that I didn’t know about or understand, it was an illness I didn’t believe in. — Dr Nina Muirhead, Royal College of Physicians, 2019
Early career[edit | edit source]
After medical training at Oxford University, which did not involve any training about ME/CFS, Dr Muirhead began to specialize in surgery, initially plastic surgery. She also became involved in training medical students, co-authoring several textbooks for medical students, and holding training sessions on Anatomy study weekends at the Royal Society of Medicine. Dr Muirhead then began to specialize in dermologic surgery, especially cutting out cancers.
Illness[edit | edit source]
In an interview with Gary Burgess, Nina Muirhead described experiencing a number of different illnesses in a short space of time, and trying to continue her busy life including carrying out surgery, looking after her two young children, continuing to exercise and socialize. After attempting to push through despite symptoms, she eventually deteriorated to the point where she struggled to walk and felt no longer safe to operate, and took time off work. After her ME became severe, Dr Muirhead spent several months being nursed by her parents, with neurological, sensory and cognitive symptoms that she thought might indicate some kind of brain tumor or Multiple Sclerosis. She was initially diagnosed with glandular fever, then ME. Although her health has improved significantly, Dr Muirhead still has ME, and has is forced to severely limit her working hours, and has experienced several failed returns to work. Dr Muirhead found that pacing did help her, especially doing tasks on different days and not working consecutive days, as well as anti-viral treatment, and vitamin B12 injections.
ME Advocacy[edit | edit source]
Dr Muirhead has given a number of presentations about ME/CFS to doctors and health professionals, based on her own experiences and current medical knowledge, including a presentation shown at the 71st World Health Assembly. She has taken part in a Q&A session with the general public after screenings of the film Unrest, which documents patients' experiences with myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Dr Muirhead is currently assessing the degree and nature of teaching that UK medical schools are providing their medical students about ME/CFS, and is planning to develop electronic training on ME/CFS which could be provided to medical schools. She is a heavily critical of the biopsychosocial model of ME/CFS, the UK's current NICE guidelines, and does not see any psychological factors as relevant to the illness ME/CFS. She is also critical of the deconditioning theory, and the assumptions of "exercise phobia". She believes biomedical research will deliver promising breakthroughs in ME/CFS in the next few years, and highlights the newer biomedical research findings, including findings on the significance of ATP.
Talks and interviews[edit | edit source]
- 2018, The views of a Doctor with ME on educating Doctors and medical students about ME (video), CFS/ME Research Collaborative Conference
- Mar 18, 2019, The ME Show - Series 2 Episode Eight - interviewed by Gary Burgess
Articles and blogs[edit | edit source]
- Feb 21, 2019, Are surgeons missing the major differential diagnosis that is more common than multiple sclerosis and HIV combined? - Royal College of Surgeons
- Apr 10, 2019, Do you really believe in ME? - Royal College of Physicians
Books[edit | edit source]
Online presence[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
Learn more[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- "Muirhead Nina". www.buckshealthcare.nhs.uk. Retrieved Feb 6, 2019.
- Muirhead, Nina (2018). "The Views of a Doctor with ME on Educating Doctors and Medical Students about ME/CFS - #CMRC2018". www.youtube.com. Retrieved Apr 10, 2019.
- CFS/ME Research Collaborative Conference (2018). "CMRC programme 2018" (PDF).
- "Unravel the science behind M.E at 'Unrest' screening and talk at the UPP". Science Oxford. Jan 26, 2018. Retrieved Feb 6, 2019.
- The ME Show (Mar 17, 2019). "The ME Show podcast Episode Eight - Dr Nina Muirhead". player.fm. 2. Interviewed by Gary Burgess. Retrieved Apr 10, 2019.
Oxford University - a prestigious university located in Oxford, England renowned for its teaching and research in health and medicine
myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) - A disease often marked by neurological symptoms, but fatigue is sometimes a symptom as well. Some diagnostic criteria distinguish it from chronic fatigue syndrome, while other diagnostic criteria consider it to be a synonym for chronic fatigue syndrome. A defining characteristic of ME is post-exertional malaise (PEM), or post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion (PENE), which is a notable exacerbation of symptoms brought on by small exertions. PEM can last for days or weeks. Symptoms can include cognitive impairments, muscle pain (myalgia), trouble remaining upright (orthostatic intolerance), sleep abnormalities, and gastro-intestinal impairments, among others. An estimated 25% of those suffering from ME are housebound or bedbound. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies ME as a neurological disease.