MS Fatigue

Someone recently asked a question about MS Fatigue. The question had several points which I felt needed to be addressed, so here is my take on it.

Question:

I am a 55 yr old woman who has had MS for 21 years. After initial optic neuritis in the fist year, which took approx. another year to treat with steroids, my main symptom is fatigue.

Previously I have managed reasonably well, but since November, after a stressful period I have overwhelming fatigue which is making me too tired to even think or organize my life, let alone do anything.

I resumed amantadine tablets recently after having a few months break. They helped last time quite quickly but they have had no effect after three weeks. How long can I expect to feel so low, and does my type of MS symptoms become worse as I get older?

Answer:

Fatigue is a very common symptom for MSers. In fact, at least 80% have this problem. Managing MS fatigue can be a never ending battle. Normal fatigue comes on gradually, whereas MS fatigue can come on suddenly, and more easily. It can either be acute or chronic.

Acute fatigue lasts from a few days up to a month. Chronic fatigue can last 6 months or longer. Heat can also aggravate your fatigue.

I'm sure most of this you already know, since you've dealt with MS for over 21 years. But because multiple sclerosis is such and unpredictable disease, any number of symptoms can come and go at any time. And each of these symptoms can get gradually worse.

MS Fatigue and age

Age

One thing that we are dealing with is age. Unfortunately, we all change as we get older. Among other things, our physical and nutritional needs change as we get older. Even how we deal with things emotionally can change. This has nothing to do with whether or not you have MS. This is more or less a fact of life.

fatigue

Medication and activity level

I don't know your total situation – things like what other medications you are taking. Some medications list fatigue as a side effect. Do you still work or are you physically active (or what were you doing when the fatigue limited the amount you can do now)? The things you used to do to manage your symptoms may not work so well anymore.

You may need to think about the work you do and either evaluate how you do it and make changes there. Or how long you do what you do and make changes so that you can get more rest and conserve more energy. Simply doing things differently may help you to conserve enough energy which can help control your fatigue.

Stress

Also, has anything changed in the recent past that causes you more stress? You mentioned that the fatigue came after a particularly stressful time in your life. Seemingly simple events can cause you to feel anxious or depressed, which can lead to fatigue or weakness even after the event has long passed.

There are several other things that can cause you to have overwhelming fatigue. Click here to go to Part 2.

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