The Fatigue Factor
Almost everyone complains of being tired from time to time. People with multiple sclerosis (MS) may experience fatigue beyond what is normal. This may be hard for others to understand because fatigue is not as visible as muscle weakness or poor coordination.
There is no specific treatment for fatigue that accompanies MS. However, there are many different strategies that can help to minimize your fatigue. Consider whether you are spending too much time in excessive heat, experiencing excessive stress or exercising past your comfort point. Here are some helpful tips:
Stay cool — During the warm months, exercise early in the morning or in the late evening, when it's coolest.
Move your muscles — Regular exercise can improve your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength along with your fatigue level. From swimming laps to low-impact aerobics to gardening, moderate exercise can be beneficial. Don't overdo it. Stop when you reach the point of fatigue. The "no pain, no gain" axiom doesn't apply to you. Moderation is the key.
Rethink your routines — Saving energy can provide great rewards. For example, instead of running out to do one errand, plan ahead to accomplish four or five tasks. Shop a week ahead for easy-to-make meals. If you're finding it difficult to work full-time because of fatigue, talk with your employer about your schedule or working at home.
Ask for help when you need it — Feeling overwhelmed with the tasks at hand? Don't be afraid to ask family members to help. Hiring temporary help to watch the kids for a few hours, to perform yard work and to clean the house also pays high dividends in reducing your fatigue. If you can't afford to hire someone, consider asking a friend or family member to help.
Talk with your doctor about possible depression— Some people, overwhelmed with feeling tired all the time, may become depressed. In addition, fatigue may be a symptom of depression. If you are concerned that you may be depressed, talk with your doctor. Your doctor may suggest treatment with medication or counseling.