Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Fatigue

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While most people connect multiple sclerosis (MS) with muscular weakness, numbness, and pain, weariness is the most prevalent symptom.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, about 80% of persons with MS suffer from fatigue at some time. [1]

Fatigue is synonymous with extreme tiredness or exhaustion. The fatigue associated with Multiple Sclerosis may be difficult to manage and difficult to explain to others. Although this symptom is not so obvious to other people, weariness is quite real for individuals suffering from the illness.

The first step in treating tiredness is determining what is causing it. Fatigue might be induced by nerve damage caused by Multiple Sclerosis. Sleep issues, sadness, and pharmaceutical side effects might all be contributing factors.

The good news is that tiredness can be managed with the correct mix of drugs, lifestyle adjustments, and energy-saving techniques.

What does Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue feel like?

Fatigue does not affect everyone in the same way, and it may be difficult to explain to others. In general, there are two kinds of Multiple Sclerosis fatigue: overall exhaustion and muscle fatigue.

MS fatigue is distinct from ordinary weariness. Some Multiple Sclerosis patients experience exhaustion as feeling weighted down and as though every action is difficult or awkward. Others may characterize it as severe jet lag or a persistent hangover.

Others experience exhaustion on a more cerebral level. The brain gets hazy, making it harder to think properly. Fatigue may impair your vision and your ability to communicate without slurring your words.

The following factors also characterize Multiple Sclerosis fatigue:

  • It happens every day.
  • Usually happens in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep, and tends to worsen during the day.
  • Is made worse by heat and humidity.
  • It might happen unexpectedly.
  • Interferes with day-to-day activities such as work

What causes Multiple Sclerosis fatigue?

Scientists are still unsure of the specific source of MS-related tiredness. Some believe that weariness is caused by a continual stimulation of the immune system, like being continuously affected by the flu.

Others believe that exhaustion is due to the brain’s need to work harder in patients with
Multiple Sclerosis.

Hyperactivity and impaired functional connectivity in many frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal, and cerebellar regions have been proposed as causes of central tiredness. [2] The brain of a person with MS may establish new channels for transmitting signals in response to nerve loss. This is expected to use more energy.

Fatigue may also be caused by the muscular weakness associated with Multiple Sclerosis.

Certain MS problems might also cause weariness. This is what is known as a secondary cause. MS complications that might produce tiredness symptoms include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Anemia
  • Reduced physical fitness
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Reduced thyroid function
  • Sleeping issues, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Infections

Certain drugs, such as those used to treat spasticity, pain, and bladder dysfunction, may also cause fatigue.

Symptoms of MS fatigue

In Multiple Sclerosis, there are two forms of weariness. These two forms of weariness are most likely independent of MS-related issues.

The first category is a broad sense of exhaustion. It may seem as though you did not sleep the night before. This sensation may be exacerbated in the afternoons or after activities. People may believe that they are unable to do as many chores as they used to without becoming exhausted.

Muscular exhaustion is the second form of weariness. There is greater weakness following repeated action of this kind. This is common while walking. People may notice themselves dragging one leg or becoming increasingly wobbly.

Non-medical treatments for MS-related fatigue

There are non-medical treatments for fatigue related to Multiple Sclerosis:

  • A number of studies have demonstrated that regular exercise, generally with some aerobic (cardiovascular) component, aids in the treatment of MS-related tiredness. Regular exercise is also beneficial to balance, endurance, weight reduction, and overall well-being.
  • It is critical to use the idea of energy conservation. For example, you may take advantage of the ideal time of day by going shopping in the morning and relaxing in the afternoon. A little snooze will help you refresh your batteries.
  • Avoid overburdening your day.
  • If you are taking medicines that are producing tiredness, talk to your doctor about it; you and your doctor may decide to reduce or eliminate these prescriptions.
  • Consider focusing on quitting smoking, using drugs or consuming alcohol.
  • Some people are heat sensitive, and experience increased weariness when exposed to high temperatures or getting overheated. In the summer, having air conditioning may be really beneficial. Cooling vests may also be beneficial for certain persons.

Medical treatments for MS-related fatigue

A doctor may prescribe the following depending on the cause of your Multiple Sclerosis fatigue:

  • Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory pain relievers. According to a 2012 study, consuming 100 milligrams of aspirin twice a day dramatically improved MS-related tiredness. [3]
  • Amantadine (Gocovri) is an antiviral medication that may alleviate Multiple Sclerosis tiredness. Its mode of action for relieving tiredness, on the other hand, is uncertain.
  • Armodafinil (Nuvigil) or modafinil (Provigil), both of which are narcolepsy medicines. They may aid in boosting alertness in people with MS fatigue, and they may also help in case of sleep problems.
  • Anemia may be treated with iron supplementation.
  • Sleep medications, such as zolpidem, are used to treat insomnia (Ambien, Intermezzo)
  • Multivitamins are used to correct nutritional deficits caused by a poor diet.
  • Antidepressant medications such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or bupropion (Wellbutrin) to improve mood problems
  • Medications to treat leg spasticity
  • Medications for urinary dysfunction, if the desire to go to the restroom, keeps you awake at night.
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin) or dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), which are generally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy may be used to boost alertness and energy levels.

If you suspect that one of your existing drugs is causing your weariness, see your doctor about changing your prescription or adjusting the dose. Do not discontinue your medicine without first visiting your doctor.

Wrapping It Up

Fatigue is a very prevalent and potentially serious symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. In case weariness is interfering with your job or everyday life, see your doctor to see if you need to take any drugs or if your existing prescriptions need to be modified.

With the appropriate mix of drugs and lifestyle adjustments, you can overcome weariness.


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