If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), then you know that extreme fatigue is the most troubling of all the symptoms. We’re not talking about that groggy feeling most of us feel when we miss out on just one night’s worth of sleep. The type of fatigue that’s associated with MS can be debilitating and seriously interfere with performing everyday tasks that most of us take for granted. There are approximately 250,000 to 300,000 people in the U.S. and 2.5 million people worldwide living with MS, and fatigue is one of the most complained-about symptoms. The good news, however, is that there are several things you can do to feel more energized throughout the day. Curious to know what they are? Keep reading!
1. Exercise regularly.
Many MS patients find that regular exercise helps to fight fatigue that’s caused by the condition. Before adding any physical activity to your daily routine, talk with your doctor first.
2. Conserve your energy.
Energy conservation is key when you’re living with MS. If you usually feel the most energized in the morning after you wake up, then take advantage of all that energy and complete as many important tasks as you can before it runs out. Also, don’t underestimate the power of taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon – or whenever you feel that you need it – or sitting and resting in between tasks.
3. Prioritize your tasks.
Like I just mentioned, it’s important for MS patients to conserve their energy whenever they can. Therefore, before you even start your day, you must decide which activities on your to-do list are the most important.
4. Monitor your medications.
Chances are, you’re probably already taking a few medications, but are you aware of all the possible side effects? When it comes to the medications you’re taking, it’s important to talk with your doctor to ensure that none of them add to your fatigue.
5. Stay cool.
People with MS tend to be extra sensitive to heat. To avoid overheating, you can try a number of things: wear a cooling vest, drink cool beverages, and use air conditioning during the summer months as needed.
6. Listen to your body.
Pay to attention to what your body is trying to tell you. For instance, if you notice that being exposed to extreme temperatures – either too cold or too hot, long hot showers or baths, and/or smoke and other fumes cause you become fatigued, then make an effort to avoid those situations.
7. Eliminate stress.
Like with many conditions, stress will only cause your MS to worsen and you don’t want that. Whatever it is that is causing unnecessary stress in your life, try to avoid it for the sake of your health. While it’s unrealistic to up and quit a stressful job, especially if you have a family to support, you can always make it a point to avoid those friends and family members in your life that seem to stress you out more than anything.
8. Avoid certain triggers.
When you have MS, caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea and soda are your enemies. They prevent you from falling asleep, which can lead to added fatigue. On the other hand, alcohol, which is a depressant, can cause you feel drowsy, but the truth of the matter is that you’ll struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. This may cause you to feel more tired than usual when you wake up the next morning.
9. Give therapy a try.
If none of these methods work for you, don’t be afraid to reach out for help by participating in occupational or physical therapy. A trained specialist can work with you to help you find ways to conserve your energy so that you’re able to perform everyday physical tasks more effectively.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Living with Multiple Sclerosis center for more articles.