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Cancer-Related Fatigue

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What Can I Do to Combat Fatigue?

The best way to combat fatigue is to treat the cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause is often unknown, or there may be multiple causes.

There are some treatments that may help improve fatigue caused by hypothyroidism or anemia. Other causes of fatigue, like trying to do too much, must be managed on your own. 

Talk to your doctor about all the possible causes of fatigue. He or she may be able to help you find some solutions.

Here are some things you can do if you have cancer-related fatigue.

Figure out your level of energy. Keep a diary for one week to find the times of day when you are most fatigued and the times when you have the most energy. Note what you think may be reasons why.

Be alert to warning signs of fatigue. Fatigue warning signs include:

  • Tired eyes
  • Tired legs
  • Whole-body tiredness
  • Stiff shoulders
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Weakness or malaise
  • Boredom or lack of motivation
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness, anxiety, or impatience

Conserve your energy:

  1. Plan ahead, and organize your work.
  2. Change where you store items to reduce trips or reaching.
  3. Delegate tasks when possible.
  4. Combine activities, and simplify details.
  5. Schedule rest.
  6. Balance periods of rest and work.
  7. Rest before you become fatigued -- frequent, short rests are helpful.
  8. Pace yourself. A moderate pace is better than rushing through activities.
  9. Alternate sitting and standing.
  10. When sitting, use a chair with good back support. Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back.
  11. Adjust the level of your work -- work without bending over.
  12. When bending to lift something, bend your knees and use your leg muscles to lift, not your back. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
  13. Carry several small loads instead of one large one, or use a cart.
  14. Limit work that requires reaching over your head.
  15. Use long-handled tools.
  16. Limit work that increases muscle tension.
  17. Breathe evenly; do not hold your breath.
  18. Wear comfortable clothes to allow for free and easy breathing.
  19. Avoid too hot or too cold temperatures.
  20. Eliminate smoke or harmful fumes.
  21. Avoid long, hot showers or baths.
  22. Use your energy only on important tasks.

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