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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Fatigue makes it difficult to push on

I love writing. No surprise there, it has after all been a major part of my life. But, today, it’s not so easy because I have been hit by a bout of fatigue.

Fatigue is just one possible aspect of multiple sclerosis – but there are plenty of other causes too.

And for anyone fortunate enough not to be affected by fatigue, please don’t tell us to get a good night’s sleep. Be assured, that is not enough.

So, what is fatigue?

The medical information website healthline.com says:

Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. It isn’t the same as simply feeling drowsy or sleepy. When you’re fatigued, you have no motivation and no energy. Being sleepy may be a symptom of fatigue, but it’s not the same thing.

Fatigue is a common symptom of many medical conditions, which range in severity from mild to serious. It’s also a natural result of some lifestyle choices, such as lack of exercise or poor diet.

If your fatigue doesn’t resolve with proper rest and nutrition, or you suspect it’s caused by an underlying physical or mental health condition, see your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your fatigue and work with you to treat it.

Why do we get fatigue?

Causes of fatigue can be described, in general terms, as your lifestyle, and your physical or mental health.

Healthline lists lifestyle factors as physical exertion, lack of physical activity, lack of sleep, being overweight or obese, periods of emotional stress, boredom, grief, taking certain medications such as antidepressants or sedatives, using alcohol on a regular basis, using street drugs such as cocaine, consuming too much caffeine, and not eating a nutritious diet.

We know that those of us with MS can get fatigue but there are other physical conditions that can also cause it. Healthline says these include, anemia, arthritis, bromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, infections such as cold and flu, Addison’s disease – a disorder that can affect your hormone levels, hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, sleep disorders such as insomnia, autoimmune disorders including MS, congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.

As for mental health conditions, fatigue is a symptom of anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder.

In my case, I’ll blame the MS but today the level of fatigue has been made worse by trying to do too much, too quickly.  Right now, I feel totally worn out and am having trouble keeping my eyes open.

Goodnight.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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Hormones and Diet Help Relieve Woman’s MS-Related Fatigue

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A woman who says her life was made miserable by fatigue caused by multiple sclerosis, claims she is on the road to recovery because she has taken control of her body and is using a combination of hormones and diet.

Instead of relying on conventional treatment, she is praising hormone treatment and a new diet for making life worth living again. “I was listening to doctors, but not now,” she told me.

Lisa, whose last name I am withholding, lives in a town in upstate New York. She was a nurse before she was forced to retire because of MS and received a number of different therapies before striking out on her own.

“I was given Tysabri, which is very strong and has a risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). I have also taken Avonex (interferon beta-1a). In fact, I ‘ve been on several disease-modifying therapies over the years. I consider I have paid my dues in that arena,” she said.

hormones“It was my experience as a nurse that led me to notice that as women with the disease became pregnant, their symptoms lessened as their hormones increased naturally. Pregnant women don’t have relapses,” she said.

“It seemed too much of a coincidence, so I thought it had to be tried. I had estriol, an estrogen, as a lotion that is absorbed through skin, while progesterone is tablet,” she said.

Taking part in life

But that’s not all, diet also has been involved.

“I have started eating an anti-inflammatory diet, no red meat, dairy products, or gluten — and all that seems to be working, too,” said Lisa.

So what did it used to be like? Lisa explained that she used to have to lie on the couch for 11 hours each day. “I had to lie virtually flat because the fatigue was so bad, but now I am sitting up and taking part in life,” she told me.

I asked Lisa about the symptoms she had experienced before her trying hormones and diet. “The fatigue was phenomenal. Just rolling over was a major exertion. Walking to the bathroom resulted in extreme fatigue, and I used to literally crawl out of the shower,” she said.

Now that Lisa is so much better, she has some strong words for MS researchers.

“Not enough attention is being given to this form of treatment; it just goes to big pharma to make more money,” she said.

But she had some conciliatory words for those who do feel existing medicines help them. “If medicine works for you great,” said Lisa, “but they’re not for everyone.”

This article, written by me, first appeared in Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

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ian profile

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

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