Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms: fatigue
(feelings of tiredness)
What causes fatigue?
Fatigue is one of the most common multiple sclerosis symptoms, occurring in nearly 80% of people with MS. Fatigue can feel like lack of physical or mental energy. Even though fatigue is common in multiple sclerosis, MS may not be the only reason you're feeling tired. Other factors that may cause fatigue are:
Weather: MS fatigue can worsen with an increase in heat and humidity.
Other medical conditions: Even something as simple as a minor infection can sap energy.
Medications: Some medications (like antihistamines) can cause fatigue as a side effect. Make sure your health care professional has the most up-to-date list of all medications you are taking.
Sleep problems: Problems falling asleep, staying asleep or getting the right kind of sleep prevent people from feeling refreshed when they wake up.
Depression and anxiety: These are common in MS and may contribute to fatigue. If you or others close to you notice changes in your mood or loss of interest in once-favorite activities, be sure to tell your health care professional.
Fatigue is one of the most common multiple sclerosis symptoms, occurring in nearly 80% of people with MS.
Dealing with fatigue
There are a number of options you can discuss with your health care professional that may help reduce fatigue as a symptom of MS:
- Conserve energy—rest whenever you can. Rest means doing nothing at all. By resting often, you may leave strength for enjoyable activities. Plan and pace your activities. Set priorities. Focus on items that must be done. Learn to let go of any guilt that may be associated with not finishing tasks. And don't be afraid to ask family and friends for some help.
- Occupational therapy—helps people maintain skills they need for everyday living at home or work. It can help simplify tasks at work and home.
- Physical therapy—helps people improve movement and function. Physical therapy and exercise can teach you energy-saving ways of walking (with or without assistive devices) and performing other daily tasks that may have become more difficult lately.
- Sleep regulation—may involve treating other MS symptoms that interfere with sleep (e.g., spasticity, urinary problems) and using sleep medications on a short-term basis.
- Psychological interventions—stress management, relaxation training, joining a support group or psychotherapy can teach you ways to deal with your emotions effectively.
- Medications—talk to your health care professional about specific treatments that may help relieve fatigue.