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Breast Cancer: Combating Cancer-Related Fatigue


What Can I Do To Combat Fatigue?

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

There are some medical treatments that may help improve fatigue caused by hypothyroidism or anemia. Other causes of fatigue must be managed on an individual basis. 



  • Evaluate your level of energy. Think of your personal energy stores as a "bank." Deposits and withdrawals have to be made over the course of the day or the week to balance energy conservation, restoration and expenditure. Keep a diary for one week to identify the time of day when you are either most fatigued or have the most energy. Note what you think may be contributing factors.
  • Be alert to your personal warning signs of fatigue. Fatigue warning signs may include tired eyes; tired legs; whole-body tiredness; stiff shoulders; decreased energy or a lack of energy; inability to concentrate; weakness or malaise; boredom or lack of motivation; sleepiness; increased irritability; and nervousness, anxiety or impatience.

Energy Conservation

  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 beneficial.
  8. Pace yourself.
  9. A moderate pace is better than rushing through activities.
  10. Reduce sudden or prolonged strains.
  11. Alternate sitting and standing.
  12. Practice proper body mechanics.
  13. When sitting, use a chair with good back support. Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back.
  14. Adjust the level of your work -- work without bending over.
  15. 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.
  16. Carry several small loads instead of one large one, or use a cart.
  17. Limit work that requires reaching over your head.
  18. Use long-handled tools.
  19. Store items lower.
  20. Limit work that increases muscle tension (isometric work).
  21. Breathe evenly, do not hold your breath.
  22. Wear comfortable clothes to allow for free and easy breathing.
  23. Identify effects of your environment.
  24. Avoid extremes of temperature.
  25. Eliminate smoke or harmful fumes.
  26. Avoid long, hot showers or baths.
  27. Prioritize your activities.
  28. Decide what activities are important to you, and what could be delegated.
  29. Use your energy on important tasks.

WebMD Medical Reference

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