Between you and me I find fatigue to be one of the most common occurrences during daily activities. Even travelling to and from places can take its toll. So is there something that we can do to help control it?
Fatigue is unfortunately central to many neuropathies, but the causes can widely vary. It takes far more energy to walk, stand, balance and generally do normal, everyday things. Muscles have to constantly compensate for other areas having to do jobs they were not designed to do.
According to Dr. Scott Berman, in his book Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy, a study showed fatigue in autoimmune neuropathy 80 per cent of 113 patients had severe fatigue. And that fatigue was independent of motor or sensory symptoms, being rated as one of the top three most disabling symptoms. Some medications also add to the endless tiring effect which can be unhelpful.
DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert, everything written is based on personal and other’s testimonies, available journals and research.
So how do you manage it?
CMT UK, an organisation that deals with the sister condition of HNPP, Charcot Marie Tooth disorder, has made a few suggestions in order to counteract some of the lethargy.
- Eat regular meals and healthy snacks – it is advised to eat every three to four hours instead of eating large meals with longer gaps in between.
- Regular exercise – this might feel impossible when you’re feeling tired but it is supposed to help in the long run. A single 15-minute walk, (though many will find this difficult) or any other gentle exercise, can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity. Just start with a small amount and build up your physical activity incrementally over weeks and months until you feel comfortable and it doesn’t cause you any additional discomfort.
- Sleeping well – Two thirds of people are said to suffer from sleep issues when they have neuropathy problems. The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests sticking to a routine of sleep every day, so getting up and going to sleep at same time daily. They also advise avoiding napping and if it helps, taking a hot bath before sleep.
- Drinking lots of water – this is important for so many reasons. You may be dehydrated, or your medication requires a lot of H2O.
- Weight management – excess weight can put a strain on your heart which can make you feel exhausted. Eating healthily and balanced meals as well as light exercise can help combat this.
- Stress relief – relaxing activities can help relieve a bit of the stress which helps improve your energy levels. Even reading a book or listening to music can help take your mind off things.
- Therapy – counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help to fight fatigue. Talking about it may be a factor.
- No caffeine – caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea as well as fizzy drinks can potentially play havoc on your nerves. The RCP says caffeine hangs around in your body for hours afterwards. The guidance is to stop drinking tea or coffee by mid-afternoon. If you want a hot drink in the evening, try something milky or herbal. I find decaffeinated tea helps as a placebo!
- Meals before bedtime – don’t eat or drink a lot late at night. Try to have your supper early in the evening rather than late.
- Reduce alcohol intake – it may help you fall asleep at first but it’s likely to keep you up during the night and if you do sleep it won’t necessarily be deep. It can also make you feel tired in the morning.
- The problems with sleep medication – there’s a chance it may interact with your current medication. It can also be addictive and eventually you may be required to take a higher dosage.
- Muscle issues – speak to your doctor about any deficiencies that may make your muscles spasm more during the night.
Sometimes fatigue can get the best of us. I say this as I head for a lie down.