Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Fibromyalgia
Both conditions are chronic and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue. Strategies include good sleep habits , relaxation techniques, light exercise, pacing yourself, and eating a balanced diet.
Sleep Suggestions For Fighting Fatigue
A common cause of fatigue is not enough sleep, or poor quality sleep. Suggestions include:
- Get enough sleep two-thirds of us suffer from sleep problems, and many people dont get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day. Some recommendations on getting a good nights sleep include: go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day, avoid naps through the day, and have a warm bath or shower before bed.
- Limit caffeine too much caffeine, particularly in the evening, can cause insomnia. Limit caffeinated drinks to five or less per day, and avoid these types of drinks after dinner.
- Learn how to relax a common cause of insomnia is fretting about problems while lying in bed. Experiment with different relaxation techniques until you find one or two that work for you for example, you could think of a restful scene, focus on your breathing, or silently repeat a calming mantra or phrase.
- Avoid sleeping pills sleeping pills are not a long-term solution because they dont address the causes of insomnia.
Coping With Fatigue At Work
You may find that you cant continue working due to fatigue, or that you have to reduce the amount of time that you spend at work. It can help to talk to your employer or personnel/human resources officer and let them know that you may need some time off due to your illness or its treatment.
Dont feel that you have to work if you are too tired, but if you do want to carry on working, you may be able to find ways of making your work less tiring for a while.
People with certain illnesses are protected by the Equality Act, which prevents employers victimising or discriminating against people with a disability. The Act also states that employers are expected to make reasonable adjustments to support employees in the workplace. You may want to make suggestions for adjustments that could help to support you. Things that your employer can do to help include:
- changing your hours so that you can travel to and from work at less busy times
- asking colleagues to be supportive and to help with some of your work
- finding you a parking place near to your place of work
- letting you take a short break every now and again to lie down and rest
- allowing you to work from home, if possible
- finding you lighter work if your job involves physical exertion or heavy lifting
If you are self-employed, it can help to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions about benefits that you may be entitled to claim.
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How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep
If you are experiencing sleep disturbances, improving your sleep habits may help. Strategies to try include the following:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Avoid electronic devices at least two hours before bed, because the light from these devices may disturb your body’s natural sleep clock.
Sleep in a quiet, dark, cool space.
Avoid caffeine late in the day.
Get regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it generally results in more fragmented sleep, and sleep quality in people who are alcohol users tends to be worse.
However, if these strategies do not help, and the sleep problems you are experiencing are frequent and affect your daily life, it is time to visit your health care professional.
Causes Of Fatigue During Early Pregnancy
In the first trimester, a number of factors may cause pregnancy fatigue, including:
- Building the placenta. Throughout the first trimester of pregnancy, your body is creating the placenta, an organ manufactured especially for pregnancy that supplies your baby with nutrients and oxygen necessary to grow and thrive. Its an enormous task that saps your body of energy.
- Your hormones. Pregnancy fatigue is largely due to ramped-up production of the hormone progesterone, which supports your pregnancy and increases production of milk glands required for breastfeeding later on. Hormone changes can also cause mood upheaval, and riding the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy can be tiring.
- Increased blood supply. The demands of creating and pumping extra blood to supply your baby with nutrients and oxygen can make you feel fatigued.
- Other physical changes. Your metabolism is running high, your heart rate is up, your blood sugar and blood pressure are down, and youre using more nutrients and water all of which can wear you out.
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Fatigue Is Always A Sign Of A Serious Medical Condition
At some point, nearly everyone suffers from fatigue. In most cases, it’s acute fatigue — fatigue that occurs suddenly but lasts less than three months and is usually caused by lifestyle or environmental factors such as physical exertion, stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, or inadequate diet. In most cases, it’s easily treated by addressing the cause: by reducing stress getting more rest, sleep, or better nutrition or hydrating properly.
Chronic fatigue lasts longer — for more than a few months — and it’s more likely to be associated with an underlying medical condition.
Other Fatigue Fighting Strategies
If youre living with fatigue and exhaustion on a daily basis, its time to make an appointment with your doctor. The two of you can discuss your current medications and your dosage schedule. Sometimes splitting doses or taking the same medication by injection on the weekends can help to fight the fatigue. You may also want to discuss supplements with your doctor. Taking probiotics could help you deal both with the pain and your fatigue levels, as might vitamin D. Even investigating your sleep cycle can help quite a bit.
After you talk to your doctor, you may want to try a few other things. First, dont overdo it when you have a good day. If you feel good, keep in mind that your energy level may still be in short supply, and overdoing it will make your next bad day far worse. Knowing your limitations can help you avoid overdoing it.
Be sure to get some exercise every day. While this can be tough if youre dealing with chronic pain and fatigue, a little bit of exercise could help increase your overall energy levels while keeping your joints flexible.
Think about increasing the quality of your sleep, too. You should have a dark space in which you sleep each night that is cool and comfortable. If possible, make sure it is quiet, too, and dont take any electronics into the room.
Chronic pain and fatigue can make it tough to live your life, but there are things you can do to move forward. To learn more about how we can help you fight chronic pain and fatigue, contact us today.
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General Suggestions For Exercise
- Regular, light exercise such as walking has been shown to reduce fatigue as well as nausea and vomiting, and can help some people to sleep better
- Plan some activity or light exercise into your day
- If exercise is impossible, try to stay active in your daily routine
- Pay attention to how your body reacts to exercise: how did you sleep? How did you feel the next day?
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise
- Perhaps keep a record of your activities to share with your doctor or nurse, so they can help monitor your progress
- It’s important to find a balance between activity and rest, and to exercise in a way that allows the muscles to recover after activity
- Dont exercise if you feel unwell, are in pain or have any other symptoms that worry you, such as feeling breathless. Let your doctor know if you feel unwell or have worrying symptoms
What Helps Me Manage My Fatigue
Expect you or a loved one may develop post-COVID fatigue, regardless of how unwell you or they were during the actual infection.
Vaccines help reduce the risk of post-COVID fatigue by lowering the chance of catching COVID in the first place. Vaccinated people who do catch COVID are less likely to report fatigue and are less likely to develop long COVID.
However, vaccination is not 100% protective and there are plenty of fully vaccinated people who go on to develop longer term fatigue.
The evidence for what helps you recover from post-COVID fatigue is in its infancy. However, a few things do help:
1. pace yourself: adjust the return to normal activities to your energy levels. Choose your priorities and focus on what you can do rather than what you cant
2. return to exercise gradually: a gradual return to exercise may help your recovery, but you may need some support about how to manage or avoid fatigue afterwards. Some therapists occupational therapists, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists specialise in this. So ask your GP for a recommendation
3. prioritise sleep: rather than feeling guilty about sleeping so much, remind yourself that while you sleep, your body conserves energy and heals. Disrupted sleep patterns are an unfortunate COVID symptom. Having a strict bedtime, while also resting when you feel tired during the day, is important
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Is It Sleepiness Or Fatigue
Sleepiness can occur when a person does not get enough good quality sleep, or when they have a lack of stimulation. It can also be a symptom of a health condition that interferes with sleep, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.
Sleepiness is more likely to be short-term than fatigue. It is usually treatable with regular and consistent sleep.
However, fatigue especially when it is chronic is often associated with a health condition or problem. It may also be its own chronic condition, called chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Fatigue is associated with many health conditions and lifestyle factors. The sections below will outline these in more detail.
What Can I Do About Fatigue
Recognise that the fatigue is real and be kind to yourself. Explain to your family, friends, and colleagues at work the impact the fatigue is having. Because fatigue is invisible, sometimes it is not properly understood. Until it is experienced it can be hard to understand the impact of fatigue and how debilitating it can be.
Get a good nights sleep. Fatigue feels much worse if your sleep pattern is also disturbed. Try to improve your sleep pattern by reading the sleeping well section.
Try relaxation techniques. These can help with fatigue as they promote a good sleep pattern, and can help reduce stress. Consider trying techniques such as mindful meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, tai chi, and other activities you find relaxing, such as reading or having a long shower or bath.
Plan, prioritise and delegate.
Eat well. A healthy diet can help. See the section on eating well.
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Depression Stress And Anxiety
Adjusting to a chronic, debilitating illness sometimes leads to other problems, including depression, stress, and anxiety. Many patients with ME/CFS develop depression during their illness. When present, depression or anxiety should be treated. Although treating depression or anxiety can be helpful, it is not a cure for ME/CFS.
Some people with ME/CFS might benefit from antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. However, doctors should use caution in prescribing these medications. Some drugs used to treat depression have other effects that might worsen other ME/CFS symptoms and cause side effects. When healthcare providers are concerned about patients psychological condition, they may recommend seeing a mental health professional.
Some people with ME/CFS might benefit from trying techniques like deep breathing and muscle relaxation, massage, and movement therapies . These can reduce stress and anxiety, and promote a sense of well-being.
Talking To Your Doctor Or Nurse
Prepare for your next appointment with your doctor or nurse by writing down questions that you want to ask.
Never be embarrassed to ask them to repeat and explain anything that you dont understand.
Your care and wellbeing is the doctors and nurses priority, so describe all of your symptoms to them. It can be difficult for anyone to understand how much fatigue can affect your life, and how distressing it can be, unless they have experienced it themselves. For this reason you may need to emphasise to your doctors and nurses the difficulties that it causes for you.
Discuss everyday actions that you find difficult, such as climbing stairs, cooking or bathing. If you have kept a fatigue diary you can bring it in to share with the health professionals looking after you.
It can often be difficult to discuss emotions, especially when you are ill, for fear of upsetting yourself and others. Try not to let embarrassment stop you discussing your emotions with your doctors and nurses. It may help if you take someone to the appointment with you. When you have fatigue it can be difficult to remember what the doctor or nurse has said and your relative or friend can help to fill in the gaps.
Specific questions you may like to ask:
- What could be causing my fatigue?
- What treatments may help me?
- How can I cope with my fatigue?
- What help is available?
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What Percentage Of Patients Complain To Their Primary Care Doctor About Fatigue That Interferes With Their Daily Lives
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in medicine, accounting for an estimated 10 million doctor office visits each year.
Because fatigue is a common feature of everyday life but also a common symptom of so many different medical conditions, it can be difficult for doctors to properly assess and treat. In many cases, the most important medical response to persistent fatigue is to get tested for potential underlying physical or psychological medical conditions.
Support Your Immune System
Chronic infections may be an underlying cause of chronic fatigue, but they are widely undiagnosed.
What to do: In addition to getting tested for underlying infections, consider blends of Siberian ginseng, samento, sarsaparilla, guaiacum, astragalus, resveratrol, and cat’s claw for their immune-strengthening properties.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There’s a long list of possible symptoms that someone with fatigue syndrome can have. The most common ones include:
- severe fatigue, which can make it hard to get out of bed and do normal daily activities
- sleep problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, or not having a refreshing sleep
- symptoms getting worse after physical or mental effort
- symptoms or dizziness that get worse after standing up or sitting upright from a lying down position
- problems with concentration and memory
- headaches and stomachaches
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Underactive Thyroid And Fatigue
Symptoms: Extreme fatigue, sluggishness, feeling run-down, depression, cold intolerance, weight gain
The problem may be a slow or underactive thyroid. This is known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. It helps set the rate of metabolism, which is the rate at which the body uses energy.
According to the American Thyroid Foundation, about 17% of all women will have a thyroid disorder by age 60. And most won’t know it. The most common cause is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s stops the gland from making enough thyroid hormones for the body to work the way it should. The result is hypothyroidism, or a slow metabolism.
Blood tests known as T3 and T4 will detect thyroid hormones. If these hormones are low, synthetic hormones can bring you up to speed, and you should begin to feel better fairly rapidly.
If You Think It’s All About How Much You Sleep You Need To Read On
What does it mean to feel energetic?
Watching children play, adults marvel at their energy. Can’t we feel energetic as well? The answer is yes, although as we age, it is normal to experience less vigor. This fatigue is not entirely due to the physical process of aging. Stress increases as we agewe may have big mortgages, car payments, increasing responsibility at work, ill parents, medical conditions, or children to raise. And we often play lessthose who are younger are often better at prioritizing socializing, trying new things and having fun, while we can become bogged down in responsibility and forget to do the things that fill us up.
Adults also tend to decrease their activities as they get olderand less activity is associated with greater fatigue. It can mean poorer physical conditioning, too, which means that less activity is needed to produce muscle strain. Fatigue is functional it can help protect us against overexertion. However, our bodies are also sensitive to too little activity. So although fatigue is often associated with not wanting to do anything, paradoxically, sometimes we need to increase activity to shake off the cobwebs.Too often we take the cues of fatigue as a sign that we must do less.
What can we do to feel less fatigued?
If you have persistent fatigue, see your doctor. There are many treatable causes, and fatigue can be a sign of something else that requires medical attention.
Gradually increase your level of physical activity.
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