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Coping with Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue

June 21 2003
Serena Gordon

Living with multiple sclerosis often means fighting fatigue on a daily basis.

In fact, as many as 95 percent of those with multiple sclerosis (MS) report having a problem with fatigue, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. More than just feeling shortchanged of a few hours of sleep, those with MS fatigue feel a pervasive tiredness that often interferes with the ability to complete daily activities.

The first step in getting help is to rule out other causes of fatigue, such as depression or sleep problems. If your physician determines that your fatigue is MS-related, there are several treatments that can help ease the constant feeling of exhaustion.

Occupational and physical therapy can help movement or breathing problems that might be causing fatigue. These therapists can design activity planning and exercise programs that may help reduce fatigue. Occupational therapists, in particular, can help you learn to pace your activities and use energy effectiveness strategies.

Medications such as amantadine, modafinil and pemoline may help, but the society cautions these drugs are not a cure and they don't work for every patient. Also, like all medications, they do have side effects.

Lifestyle changes can also be important. Stress management, relaxation exercises, aerobic exercise, sleep regulation or psychotherapy have all been used to treat fatigue. Additionally, feeling overheated is often a culprit in MS fatigue, so it's important to keep cool.

More information

To learn more about dealing with fatigue from multiple sclerosis, visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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