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Colorectal Cancer and Fatigue

What Can I Do About Fatigue With Colorectal Cancer?

The best way to combat fatigue while also battling colorectal cancer is to treat the underlying medical 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 an under-active thyroid or anemia. Other causes of fatigue must be managed on an individual basis. The following guidelines should help you combat fatigue.

Assess Your Fatigue

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, nervousness, anxiety, or impatience.

Conserve Your Energy

There are several ways to conserve your energy. Here are some suggestions:

Plan ahead and organize your work

  • Store items to reduce trips or reaching.
  • Delegate tasks when needed.
  • Combine activities and simplify details.

Schedule rest

  • Balance periods of rest and work.
  • Rest before you become fatigued -- frequent, short rests are beneficial.
  • Delegate tasks so you can rest.

Pace yourself

  • A moderate pace is better than rushing through activities.
  • Reduce sudden or prolonged strains.
  • Alternate sitting and standing.

Practice proper body mechanics

  • When sitting, use a chair with good back support. Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back.
  • Adjust the level of your work -- work without bending over.
  • 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.
  • Carry several small loads instead of one large one, or use a cart.

Limit work that requires reaching over your head

  • Use long-handled tools.
  • Store items lower.

Limit work that increases muscle tension

  • Breathe evenly; do not hold your breath.
  • Wear comfortable clothes to allow for free and easy breathing.

Identify effects of your environment

  • Avoid temperature extremes.
  • Eliminate smoke or harmful fumes.
  • Avoid long, hot showers or baths.

Prioritize your activities

  • Decide what activities are important to you, and what could be delegated.
  • Use your energy for important tasks.

WebMD Medical Reference

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