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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Colorectal Cancer and Fatigue

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Conserve Your Energy continued...

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.

How Does Nutrition Impact Fatigue With Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer-related fatigue is often made worse if you are not eating enough or if you are not eating the right foods. Maintaining good nutrition can help you feel better and have more energy. The following are strategies to help improve nutritional intake:

  1. Meet your basic calorie needs. The estimated calorie needs for someone with cancer is 15 calories per pound of weight if your weight has been stable. Add 500 calories per day if you have lost weight. Example: A person who weighs 150 lbs. needs about 2,250 calories per day to maintain his or her weight.
  2. Get plenty of protein. Protein rebuilds and repairs damaged (and normally aging) body tissue. The estimated protein needs are 0.5-0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Example: A 150-pound person needs 75-90 grams of protein per day. The best sources of protein include foods from the dairy group (8 oz. milk = 8 grams protein) and meats (meat, fish, or poultry = 7 grams of protein per ounce).
  3. Drink plenty of fluids. A minimum of 8 cups of fluid per day will prevent dehydration. (That's 64 ounces, 2 quarts or a half-gallon). Fluids can include juice, milk, broth, milkshakes, gelatin, and other beverages. Of course, water is fine, too. Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol do NOT count. Keep in mind that you'll need more fluids if you have treatment side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea.
  4. Make sure you are getting enough vitamins. Take a vitamin supplement if you are not sure you are getting enough nutrients. A recommended supplement would be a multivitamin that provides at least 100% of the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for most nutrients. Note: Vitamin supplements do not provide calories, which are essential for energy production. So vitamins cannot substitute for adequate food intake. Also, be sure to tell your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  5. Make an appointment with a dietitian. A registered dietitian provides suggestions to work around any eating problems that may be interfering with proper nutrition (such as early feeling of fullness, swallowing difficulty, or taste changes). A dietitian can also suggest ways to maximize calories and include proteins in smaller amounts of food (such as powdered milk, instant breakfast drinks, and other commercial supplements or food additives).

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