Coping With Fatigue From Chemotherapy
]]>Fatigue]]>—feeling tired and lacking energy—is a very common symptom reported by cancer patients. The exact cause is not always known. It can be due to your disease, ]]>chemotherapy]]>, ]]>radiation]]>, surgery, low blood counts, lack of sleep, pain, stress, and poor appetite, along with many other factors.
Fatigue from chemotherapy feels different from fatigue of everyday life. Fatigue caused by chemotherapy can appear suddenly. Patients with cancer have described it as a total lack of energy and have used words such as worn out, drained, and wiped out to describe their fatigue. Rest does not always relieve it. Not everyone feels the same kind of fatigue. You may not feel tired while someone else does, or your fatigue may not last as long as someone else's does. It can last days, weeks, or even months.
Tips for Coping
Here are some tips on coping with fatigue:
- Plan your day so that you have time to rest.
- Take short naps or breaks, rather than one long rest period.
- Save your energy for the most important things.
- Try easier or shorter versions of activities that you enjoy.
- Take short walks and do light exercise, if possible. Exercise may help to reduce fatigue.
- Talk to your doctor about ways to save your energy and treat your fatigue. Medicines (eg, erythropoietin, ]]>darbopoetin]]>, ]]>methylphenidate]]>) may be helpful in reducing your symptoms depending on the cause of your fatigue.
- Try activities like ]]>meditation]]>, ]]>yoga]]>, guided imagery, and visualization.
- Eat as well as you can and drink plenty of fluids. Eat small amounts at a time, if that is helpful. Your doctor may have you work with a dietician to make sure that you are meeting your nutritional needs.
- Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink.
- Join a ]]>support group]]>. Sharing your feelings with others can ease the burden of fatigue. You can learn how others deal with their fatigue. Your doctor can connect you with a support group in your area. You may also find it helpful to work with a therapist.
- Ask family and friends to help you with household chores and shopping.
- Keep a diary of how you feel each day. This will help you plan your daily activities.
- Report any changes in energy level to your doctor.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Cleveland Clinic. Cancer-related fatigue. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/cancer/hic_cancer-related_fatigue.aspx.
Cresse M. Cancer fatigue. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=81. Updated December 15, 2009. Accessed June 28, 2010.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Cancer-related fatigue. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 13, 2010. Accessed June 28, 2010.
Last reviewed July 2010 by ]]>Brian Randall, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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