MS fatigue is considered by the majority of us (MSers) to be the worst of living with this chronic illness.
It is estimated that anywhere from 85 to 95% of MSers experience MS fatigue at one time or another in the course of the illness. It does not come as a surprise that it’s one of the primary reasons for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to work part-time or quit working, for those among us that live and deal with MS fatigue every day.
Overwork-Over exertion physically, mentally and emotionally can cause fatigue. Working 60-80 hour workweeks doesn’t give adequate time to rest and recover before returning to work again. People need sufficient personal time in between the time they leave work and the time they return to work. This allows for mental and physical relaxation and reduces stress. The best way to reduce over exertion is to maintain reasonable work and personal schedules to allow for relaxation.
Just When You Thought You Had Heard It All…
On really bad days, dealing with MS fatigue is unbelievably difficult and makes even meet the basic needs a vast task.
Most people don’t (or cannot) understand what is the problem with this MS fatigue? But, how do you account for and describe an overwhelming tiredness that makes everything, no matter how small, much more difficult to accomplish.
Some Random Thoughts About Fatigue
A really important item of information that you must know and be aware off is the need to monitor your body temperature as much as you can. Heat, humidity and warm weather have a very peculiar effect on must MSers.
Learning to control and manage your body temperature is a necessity if you do not wish to experience, what many consider the most common symptom in MS: MS fatigue.
In layperson’s terms, the messages that our brain transmits to the remainder of our body don’t flow smoothly and quickly across our nervous system, as it did before MS. The slowing down of all messages is a result of the multiple scars found in the patches were the myelin has been touched by the disease.
Sometimes, your mind feels like it is stuck on first gear making it near impossible to take a sudden question or accomplish any fast thinking like you used to.
The United States Social Security Administration recognizes the impairment resulting from MS fatigue as a factor of disability in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). One basic criterion used by many doctors to distinguish MS fatigue from other types of fatigue and the fatigue caused by other multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms, establish the occurrence of symptoms of fatigue during 50% of the total days at a time of a minimum of 6 weeks.
Although hypothyroidism and fatigue symptoms resulting from it goes together, many doctors don’t test for it right away. They are more likely to look to other possibilities fatigue first. A doctor may dismiss symptoms of a thyroid disorder such as fatigue in the context of the aging process or advise the patient to help reduce the stress in their lives. To the individual who is suffering from hypothyroidism and fatigue that goes with it will find it to be debilitating. Normal activities of daily life can be too overwhelming to complete.
It’s harsher than what most people experienced when talking about being fatigued and much of the time it gets in the manner with normal activities in daily life.
Any problems or difficulties you might have had with your balance, your vision or your speech (slurring) will most probably get worse.
There are many factors causing MS fatigue. They are grouped into: primary fatigue and secondary fatigue.
Primary Fatigue Is the result of the illness process. The basic reason for it is the demyelination in the central nervous system.
This fatigue is best described as an overwhelming feeling of fatigue that isn’t directly linked to the increased activity and is also recognized as Lassitude.
Heat sensitivity fatigue came from the heat intolerance many of us with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience due to hot or humid conditions. Raising our body temperature through exercise or exertion can get the same effect.
There is likewise something called ‘short-circuiting’ fatigue, where affected nerves of individual muscle groups, like your legs, tire after a short walk or your hand after writing.
The good news is that most of the time we can fight this ‘short-circuiting’ fatigue as well as the heat sensitivity fatigue by putting on a cooling vest.
Sleeping disorders are common in folks with multiple sclerosis (MS), the reason being frequent spasms, depression mixed with anxiety, urinary, and pain frequency during the night (nocturnal).
Sleep can also be concerned at the side effects of certain medications (corticosteroids like Solu-Medrol.
Need of extra efforts to balance muscle weakness (mainly the legs) that make it more difficult to walk and keep your balance.
The side effects of some medications can also cause fatigue, including those taken specifically to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), like the interferon family of drugs which are made from beta-interferon (Avonex, Rebif), and Betaseron.
Additionally fatigue can be the resulting side effect of certain drugs used to treat some MS symptoms like Baclofen, Valium and Zanaflex frequently set for the treatment of spasticity or the drugs Klonopin and Neurontin used for pain.
Others include medications for high-blood pressure, allergy medications and others containing antihistamines and anti-anxiety drugs.
Sometimes, the depression itself is the result of the fatigue and also, several medications used to treat depression can give rise to fatigue.
Lowering of body defenses by infections, urinary tract infections as well as common colds or flue can increase fatigue.
Remember that it’s the seemingly insignificant little things that we are making every day that makes the difference.
Always remember to read or ask your doctor about any side effects that can cause fatigue from the medications you’re taking, including anti-depressants.
Drink lots of water every day. Dehydration opens the way to you feeling tired and drained. You might become one of those folks that does not drink water or drink very little, because of the inconvenience over having an over active bladder. I can definitely relate to that, but it is preferable to deal with the ‘pain in the neck’ of having to search for the nearest bathroom, than dealing with the effects of dehydration.
Another plus to doing this, is that water will allow you to eliminate toxins in your body. So, do not stint on this one and make it a portion of your MS diet.
Try to breathe right. Getting used to not breathing correctly and taking short and shallow breaths, will reduce the quantity and quality of oxygen going to your cells. As a result you start feeling exhausted very easily.
Depression causes fatigue. As simple as that so, keep moving forward, and let me add, taking a step back? Not even to gain more impulse. You must come to grips with your new reality, take a breath and move forward with YOUR LIFE.
Heat exacerbates any disabilities you might have. Whenever it is too hot outside, I can go from an almost normal, everyday, walking to barely being able to stand so, if I do not pay attention to my body I can get in trouble. That is why I use a coooling vest and last up to 3 cold showers during really hot days.
Variety is the key here. Try changing your daily routine or better yet, make new plans for your future. Another language perhaps, Start learning something new, or that thing you ever wanted to learn about, write that book you dreamed of writing. It doesn’t matter what it is, everybody needs variety in life.
MSers like us, have cramps, leg spasticity, or frequent late night trips to the toilet that keeps us up at night. Try getting as much rest as you need. A good place to start is with re-teaching your body to go to sleep every night at about the same time. You need to compensate for all those precious lost minutes.
Most adults need 6-8 hours of good sleep. However, when my adrenal fatigue was severe I found that I really needed 9-10 hours nightly, with a view to heal. Your needs may not follow any ‘rule ” or average. Get the sleep you need.
Nutrition is very important and controlling your weight will help you deal with fatigue. Start your MS diet and with the proper exercise routine, you’ll start to feel the difference.
Learn to conserve your energy by learning to pace yourself. You can start by planning and following your plan or your prioritized To-Do list. It is just as important to get a balance in life, as it is to balance your fatigue. Prioritize the things you want or need to accomplish and learn to manage efficiently your energy.
Neither one of these medications is approved specifically by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the processing of MS fatigue.
I tried Amantadine (early on my multiple sclerosis (MS)) and Provigil a couple of years ago. With Amantadine I did not feel any change what so ever-do not forget that multiple sclerosis (MS) is different for each and every one of us-and with Provigil I felt a small improvement on my MS fatigue by increasing the level of energy early in the day but it did not last long. Nowadays my neurologist has prescribed Adderall XR. Most days it is helping me but, as with most things in MS fatigue, it is very difficult to put your finger on it.