Understanding Multiple Sclerosis and Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms related to multiple sclerosis, but the way in which it affects people, in addition to the frequency, can vary wildly. It’s first important to point out that fatigue isn’t the same as being tired, as fatigue is a consistent lack of energy that will invariably negatively affect your routine. Everyone experiences tiredness at some point, and if you are tired, a good sleep usually remedies the issue – something that doesn’t work for fatigue. Fatigue can affect people with multiple sclerosis in a variety of ways, so in this article we demonstrate some of the ways that fatigue can be better managed in people with MS.

A few ways you can manage multiple sclerosis

It’s unfortunate that MS and fatigue often go hand in hand, but there are quite a few ways fatigue can be managed. It is first important to note that fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis can occur very suddenly, typically worsens as the day progresses and can be made worse through heat and humidity. Because it is rarely known what is causing the fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis, it’s a good idea to find examples of your everyday life that might be affecting your energy levels. For example, if you feel particularly fatigued at midday, it might be something related to your routine at that particular time that you can address. If you do expect fatigue to some degree, it’s important that you choose when to use what energy you have appropriately. Much of this is related to organising yourself so that you can achieve the same things without expending unnecessary energy – these might include taking short rests whenever you can, pacing yourself in your daily tasks and prioritising activities so that you don’t miss out on what’s most important to you.

Make sure to eat well and exercise

As with a lot of other illnesses, eating well and exercising can help to dramatically increase energy levels. If you aren’t eating enough or are regularly eating the wrong foods, you might not be supplying enough energy to your body to be adequately used in the first place. Make sure to practice a balanced diet and not skip (or overindulge) with your meals, as this is a very avoidable way fatigue develops. Similarly, increasing the amount of physical activity you do can have an incredibly beneficial effect on your fatigue levels, as lower fitness levels will always result in lower energy levels. You don’t have to start out sprinting and weightlifting – just make sure to start walking regularly and you’ll soon see not just your fatigue levels decreased, but your positive mood increased. Meditation is also an excellent way to minimise stress, which can help a great deal with your fatigue.

Prepare yourself for bouts of fatigue

If you can understand the warning signs of fatigue, you can better prepare yourself for any of the issues related to it. Warning signs are numerous, but can include weakness, irritability, tired eyes, tired legs, whole-body tiredness, stiff shoulders, much less energy, inability to concentrate, a lack of motivation, sleepiness, nervousness, anxiety, or impatience. Although a few of these are relatively common in people, it’s a combination of these for a long period of time that will help demonstrate to you whether you have fatigue.

Evie Nasir

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