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Fatigue is described differently by different people. It can include feeling:
It can make it hard for you to feel like doing things or to have a positive outlook. Unlike day-to-day feelings of tiredness, cancer-related fatigue doesn't get better with rest and sleep.
Most patients with cancer experience fatigue. How much fatigue you have, and how long it lasts, may be related to your type of cancer, what treatments you are getting, and your general health. Approximately one-third of cancer survivors report that fatigue can last months or even years after treatment ends.
It's important to tell your doctor or nurse if you think you have cancer-related fatigue.
While it may seem logical to rest more if you feel tired, inactivity can cause de-conditioning and decrease your ability to be active. Studies show that low to moderate amounts of exercise actually help people feel less fatigue. Exercise that makes you more fatigued is too much. You may need to take frequent rest breaks, but staying as active as you can is important.
If you have symptoms like pain, nausea, diarrhea, urinary frequency, or anxiety that disturbs your sleep or rest, talk to your doctor or nurse about how to better control these symptoms.
The body needs energy to heal and to function. Food provides that energy. If you are having trouble eating, try small, frequent meals. Concentrate on foods that provide protein and calories. Drinking enough fluids is also important for the body to heal and to function. On average, you need to drink about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts (6-8 glasses) of fluid each day. Learn more about planning meals and managing cancer treatment side effects.
Feeling stressed, worried, angry, or sad can contribute to fatigue. Relaxation, meditation, prayer, humor, counseling, and support groups are ways of helping you deal with emotions. Journal writing can release emotions. You may talk with your doctor or nurse to arrange to meet with a social worker, or psychiatrist. Having the support of family and friends also helps.
There are many different types of integrative or complementary therapies. Some patients find them helpful. While some therapies (like relaxation, Reiki, therapeutic touch) are considered to be low risk for most people, others may be dangerous depending on your particular condition. If you decide to use a complementary therapy, it is important to discuss it with your doctor or nurse.
Complementary therapies that may counter fatigue include acupuncture, massage, yoga, chi kung, Reiki, therapeutic touch, and stress-reduction strategies.