Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Fatigue

Fatigue may be a symptom, resulting for a number of reasons from your long term health condition. Fatigue is also a normal part of recovering from many illnesses.

It can range in severity from mild to severe. Fatigue is the medical term used to describe the feeling of overall tiredness or lack of energy. It isn’t the same as simply feeling sleepy or drowsy. If you are fatigued, you generally have no motivation and no energy. Being tired or sleepy may be a symptom of fatigue, but it’s not the same thing.

Fatigue puzzle pieces

Fatigue is likely to continue for some time after an infection has cleared.

Fatigue can make you sleep more, feel unsteady on your feet, make standing for long periods difficult, as well as affecting your mood, thinking, memory and ability to concentrate. You may also experience worsening of your fatigue symptoms due to Post Exertional Malaise, also known as Post Exertional Symptom Exacerbation.

This is where activity, physical, cognitive, emotional, or social exertion can result in the worsening of symptoms. The worsening of symptoms can happen immediately, or can happen 24-72 hours after exertion.

If you are feeling fatigued, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists has produced useful, practical guides on how to conserve your energy.

Please see the supporting my rehab section for more specific condition related information and fatigue.

General advice for managing fatigue is about trying to maintaining healthy lifestyle choices, looking after your physical and mental health, improving sleep, and balancing rest and activity with prioritising, planning and pacing.

Types of fatigue

Physical

Lethargy
Muscle aches
Physical pain
Breathlessness
Weakness
Balance/ dizziness
Clumsiness
Speech and vision

Cognitive

Initiating tasks
Reduced concentration
Affected memory
Reduced attention
Difficulties processing complex information
Thinking skills
Brain fog

Emotional

Guilt that can't complete tasks/roles
Increased irritability
Having a short fuse
Crying
Anger
Frustration
Anxiety

Sensory

Difficulty coping with:
Bright lights
Colour
Noise
Navigation
Supermarkets, hospitals, open plan offices, schools, coffee shops

If you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or struggling to cope please contact your GP who may refer you to the relevant healthcare professional.

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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