Fatigue and multiple sclerosis

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of having MS. For many people it can become debilitating and eventually becomes the reason for their resignation from the workforce. Nine out of 10 MS patients experience fatigue to some degree.
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Fatigue is very difficult to deal with for patients as well as their peers. Other people may find it very difficult to understand what it feels like to be constantly exhausted. Even after a good night’s sleep. Fatigue is often misinterpreted as laziness, while it can in fact be debilitating.

Fatigue and lassitude

Everyone can experience regular fatigue. The kind of tiredness occurring after too little or interrupted sleep, after doing hard work or tough exercises. Many MS patients also struggle with becoming exhausted just from doing the daily tasks, such as getting dressed and washing the dishes. Depending on the symptoms of the individual patient, these little daily chores demand a great deal of effort and create fatigue.

Besides these kinds of fatigue, MS patients may experience « lassitude », which is a unique MS fatigue that differs from regular fatigue in that it :

- Tends to occur every day and for no apparent reason, whereas regular fatigue only occurs for a reason and not every day.

- Can occur even in the morning after a solid night's sleep

- Often it increases in severity throughout the day (and no napping can relieve it)

- Becomes worse in heat and high humidity

- Starts out of nowhere and with no warning

- Generally feels more exhausting than regular fatigue

- Can complicate the management of everyday life

Fatigue can be caused by an infinite amount of reasons. It could be conditions such as depression or anemia, different medicines, unhealthy diet or inactivity. Therefore it is necessary to establish the root of the problem before you can start treating it.

There are some different measures to take when managing fatigue and lassitude. First of all, occupational therapy could help make your everyday activities easier and teach you ways to overcome your tasks. Physical therapy can teach you valuable lessons in energy saving movements and can provide you with exercises so that you can sustain a decent activity level, which can also ease the fatigue.

If you are experiencing symptoms that interrupt your sleep, such as urinary problems, you may find treatments for these symptoms and if you still cannot get a good night’s sleep, you may consider sleep medications.

We all know that stress can be draining and so it may also be a good idea to get some psychological help to help relieve stress and to learn some relaxation techniques. Since heat can aggravate fatigue, you may also be able to manage your symptoms through heat management. The last option is to take medication. Although there are no medications specifically made to ease MS fatigue, some other medicines may ease the fatigue for some patients.