Fatigue…… something everyone deals with at one point or another. The definition of fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. This means anyone can be effected by fatigue. However, fatigue brought on by a chronic illness is like nothing a person has ever experienced. And most people don’t understand this kind of fatigue. It’s the kind of fatigue that makes daily life hard and sometimes impossible. It makes special outings a thing that is paid for for days, not just a fun care-free time out of the house. How do you explain this fatigue to others who think you are just being lazy? The best definition I’ve heard is: If you’ve ever had the flu and been so tired you can’t move, well multiply that at least 20 fold and you will know the feeling of chronic fatigue. Are there more than one type of fatigue? How can you combat it? What can you do to ease the fatigue? Let’s learn a little about fatigue find out what we can all do to ease its effects. Clinically fatigue is divided into three different categories: 1. Fatigue caused by a systemic disease like cancer and immune conditions. With cancer patients the fatigue is usually defined as acute and related to the disease or its treatments. Or a more chronic fatigue in those undiagnosed that often resembles chronic fatigue syndrome. Or it can be classified based on timing. Like with sarcoidosis, which is further divided into morning, intermittent and afternoon fatigue.
2. Fatigue that one might experience when they have neuromuscular disorders, during normal exercise. Patients who have MS may complain of fatigue. This fatigue is separated into two categories. Nerve fiber fatigue which is based on pathology. And fatigue of disability based on the face they need more energy when dealing with such a chronic illness! And also sleep deprivation caused by the disease or its treatments.
3. Fatigue that defined as “painful weariness” that generally has no defined cause.
So now let look at how Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is different from other types of fatigue. CFS is diagnosed when there is no clear or possible medical conditions present. A person has to meet certain requirements to be diagnosed with CFS. Those requirements are: One must have unexplained, persistent fatigue for six months, or longer along with four of the following issues. Loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes in your armpits or neck, unexplained muscle pain, pain that moves from one joint to another with no swelling or redness, headache that is new and has increased severity and pattern, sleep that is not refreshing, extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise. Once the diagnosis is made the most common treatments are sleeping pills, antidepressants and therapy.
Now that we have looked at the kinds of fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Let’s look at what we can do to decrease fatigue in all cases.
– Pace yourself throughout the day and set your own pace. Try to avoid over doing even if you are having a “good day.” If you pace yourself throughout the day you will hopefully be able to get everything done you want without being totally exhausted.
– Get moving and exercise. Lack of exercise can cause the muscles more stiff and painful, and make exercise more difficult and tiring. You will need to build up your exercise. You can’t ever go too slow. If you do too much you are likely to cause you other conditions to flare. Schedule your workouts so they become a regular part of your schedule, when you keep your schedule it’s easier to keep doing the exercise. Also, pick a time of day that is best for you. If you choose a time when you are less stiff and tired it will be easier to continue your regimen.
– Just say NO. Saying no is okay and should be something you do when needed. Try to plan your activities when you are least tired. And if it happens that something falls on a day that you are extremely fatigued don’t be afraid to reschedule. It’s better to reschedule then overdo and pay for it later.
– Have a bedtime routine. Lack of sleep can cause a person to be fatigued. At bedtime, do whatever helps you wind down. Take a hot bath, listen to soothing music, gentle stretching, or maybe some light reading. And don’t get into bed until you are ready to go to sleep. Make sure the area where you sleep is dark and quiet and at a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Try to end all screen time (phones, iPads, and TV) at least an hour before you are planning to go to sleep.
Hopefully, after reading this post you can define your fatigue and find ways to decrease fatigue. Always, talk to your doctor if your fatigue is worsening or your current sleep regimen is no longer working. Also, make sure you are doing what you can on your end to fight fatigue and get better sleep.