MS Fatigue is one of the most common invisible symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which is usually not properly understood by others. It could be misunderstood as depression, laziness, not working hard enough, etc. MS fatigue is different from the feeling of being tired (that people without MS may experience) as it may include: a sudden loss of energy, both mental and physical fatigues at the same time, not being able to continue a task or activity, etc.
MS fatigue is a side effect of nervous system damage occurring in ~80% of MS patients. Unfortunately, other MS-related symptoms (including cognitive symptoms) may also get worse during MS fatigue episodes. New studies show that MS fatigue is strongly associated with MS patients' decision to leave their jobs (learn more about MS & Work here). Below are some strategies for coping with MS fatigue:
1- Use your energy efficiently:
Saving your energy will let you achieve more by doing activities that are more important to you. Try to keep your energy level up by doing things more efficiently, such as:
a) Planning and balancing your daily activities ahead: Identify activities that consume significant energy and also activities which consume less energy and balance your activities throughout the day. Find a routine that best suits you and stick to it.
b) Identifying your limits and never exceeding them: Consider making helpful changes at home or work environment to save more energy.
c) Thinking about what other people might be able to help you with: Don't hesitate to ask your friends, colleagues, or family members for help (specially with physical activities).
2- Improve your sleep quality:
Although having poor sleep quality is very common in MS patients, you could manage it by identifying what might be the cause of your poor sleep and finding strategies helping you improve the quality of your sleep, including:
a) Having nighttime routines, such as taking a bath or going to bed at the same time every night.
b) Avoiding overthinking and stressful conversations or emails before going to bed.
c) Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
d) Reducing your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon.
e) Avoiding eating or watching TV while in bed.
3- Manage your mood swings:
Mood swings is another common invisible symptom of MS, which is often overlooked. MS-related mood swings may get worse by all MS triggers, such as temperature, humidity, depression, grief, stress, anxiety, frustration, etc. Mood swings might have significant impacts on lowering your energy level and MS fatigue.
You could manage your mood swings by finding and following some strategies, such as keeping a mood diary, telling your friends and family about your issue(s), talking to a counselor, joining an MS support group, consulting with your neurologist, doing enjoyable things, and addressing other non-ms-related causes of anxiety or depression.
Learning how to relax is very important. Relaxation can help you manage your mood changes, stress, and poor sleep quality. In addition, it decreases tension in muscles.
5- Avoiding extreme temperatures:
Changes in temperature, extreme temperatures, and humidity can make MS patients experience worsening of their symptoms, including MS fatigue. Avoiding extreme temperatures and exercising in hot or humid days could help you manage MS fatigue.
6- Exercise and Diet:
Having a healthy diet and regular exercise routine have significant impacts on managing MS fatigue:
a) Follow to a healthy diet which includes a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and healthy foods with low fat, sugar, and salt. Healthy diets will help you maintain your energy level and overcome MS fatigue.
b) Surprisingly, a lack of activity will increase MS fatigue. This happens since muscles become wakened and will consume more energy to do tasks. Having a regular exercise routine is very important to manage your MS fatigue.
7- Consult with your doctor about your Medications:
Please consult with your doctor, neurologist, or other healthcare providers about your fatigue and other health issues. Your doctor may provide you with great information and recommendations on how to manage your MS fatigue. Some medications and treatments can make MS fatigue worse. Your doctor could review them to identify your problems and recommend the best solutions or medications. Medication adherence is also very important for controlling your MS symptoms and well-being. Please always make sure you're taking your medicine as prescribed (Learn more about medication adherence here).
- Whether you are a patient, a healthcare provider, or a family member of someone with MS, your experience offers great value to others. Please don't hesitate to share it with the most authentic MS community, founded by a group of patients, neurologists, and scientists: https://www.mytraxel.com/forum-1
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