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According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 80% of people with MS have fatigue. MS-related fatigue tends to get worse as the day goes on, is often aggravated by heat and humidity and comes on more easily and suddenly than normal fatigue.
Medically speaking fatigue is not the same thing as tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone. It’s an expected feeling after certain activities or at the end of the day. Usually, you know why you’re tired and a good nights sleep solves the problem.
However, fatigue is a daily lack of energy. It’s unusual or excessive whole body tiredness not relieved by sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one to six months or longer). Fatigue can prevent a person from functioning normally and affects a person’s quality of life.
What’s the best way to fight MS related fatigue? The best way to combat fatigue related to your MS is to treat the underlying medical cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause of MS related fatigue is often unknown or there may be multiple causes.
I have to admit that fatigue is my worst MS symptom on a daily basis. I don’t sleep well at night anymore. I lay in bed at night thinking about nothing or watching T.V. After a night of laying in bed I wake up in the mornings still tired and sleepy. I’m retired so it doesn’t affect my job performance. However, my minimal daily activities can also be affected by my fatigue!
My daily activities include showering, a light work out, eating, writing my blog and typing on my computer. Not too strenuous, is it? It is for me! By 3pm I’m tired enough to lay down and sleep for 30-60 minutes. Then I get up and seem to be recharged for more inactivity! lol Every night at 6pm I’m laying on my couch eating supper, watching TV and dozing on and off. I do that until I finally lay down in bed at 11pm.
This is a personal story of mine regarding fatigue. This was before my MS diagnosis. In 1990 I went with some friends to northern Minnesota for a fun weekend. I was excited to go because I’d been working very hard to improve sales for my commercial carpet cleaning business. I needed a weekend off without doing too much thinking.
Halfway to our destination we stopped in a small town to pick up some ice and snacks. I walked into the store and all of a sudden I had this feeling of total exhaustion. I’d never experienced this kind of exhaustion before! I was thinking if my whole weekend was going to be like this it wouldn’t be much fun. I wouldn’t be much fun, either.
I remember sitting down on some cases of pop in the store just to slow down and catch my breath. Naturally, my anxiety kicked into high gear and I wondered if I was dying! lol I sat on the pop cases for about 15 minutes until my friends were done with their shopping and ready to go again.
I remember walking slowly to the car still feeling tired and a little woozy. I wasn’t driving so I sat in the backseat and closed my eyes. I stayed like that for 20-30 minutes and bingo…when I opened my eyes the tired feelings had all left! To me, it just seemed like I’d had the weirdest and strangest out of body experience that had ever happened to me!
Luckily, I didn’t have any other exhausted feelings the rest of that weekend. Looking back, I remember the temperature and humidity were starting to rise which might have had something to do with my strange sensations. Heat is one of my worst MS symptoms. I tell people nowadays I’m allergic to heat! lol When temps hit 78 degrees I go indoors.
As a result, I’m always keeping an eye on temperature and humidity if I have something to do outside in the summer. I live in the upper Midwest of the USA. When spring and summer comes after 5 months of cold and snow most people want to get out in the heat and sunshine, I don’t!