I am still tired, still overtired, as I slowly recover from a bout of fatigue. Regular readers may have noticed that my posts have been a little sporadic lately. Fatigue has been the reason.
Of course, it is more than tiredness, more than exhaustion. It is debilitating. So, what is it?
Personal experience tells me that fatigue in MS is not just an ordinary tiredness. Forget about the sort of tiredness you might receive after a day of hard work. like you might get at the end of a hard day’s work. I agree with people who describe it as an overwhelming sense of tiredness with no obvious cause.
- You may feel extremely tired after very little activity
- You may wake up feeling as tired as you did when you went to sleep
- Your limbs might feel heavy, and it becomes harder to grasp things or to write
- Other symptoms, like difficulties with balance, vision or concentration, might also get worse temporarily
Just like MS itself, fatigue affects people in different ways.
When I looked into the issue, I found that there are two different forms associated with MS. These are Primary fatigue, caused by nerve damage, and secondary, caused by factors relating to MS.
Primary fatigue is thought to be a direct result of damage to the central nervous system, such as demyelination or inflammation.
Fatigue: No single brain area identified
The MS Society says:
Some studies suggest that certain parts of the brain are linked to MS fatigue. But no single area of the brain has been identified. Fatigue might be due to damage in several areas of the brain or spinal cord.
Some researchers suggest that fatigue might be caused by the way that the brain adapts to the impact of MS.
MRI scans of people who have fatigue show that they use larger areas of the brain to carry out activities than people without fatigue. Perhaps the brain is finding new routes for messages when the usual nerve paths have been affected.
Causes of secondary fatigue include MS symptoms such as: muscle weakness, stiffness, pain, tremor, depression, mobility difficulties, and lack of sleep – or disturbed sleep resulting from things like bladder problems or muscle spasms-
Additionally, heat sensitivity, infections, and medications can all make fatigue worse for people with MS.
The society does have a word of warning, however. It says:
Many common drugs used to manage MS and related symptoms have side effects that add to fatigue. If you start a new medication, change doses or change the time you take the drug, your fatigue levels might also change. Discuss any changes with the prescribing doctor – don’t adjust your drugs without advice.
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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 for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor, so cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.