What is fatigue?

Drowsy looking man with head resting on hand

Fatigue in MS is not just an ordinary tiredness, like you might get at the end of a hard day's work.

People describe it as an overwhelming sense of tiredness with no obvious cause:

  • You may feel extremely tired after very little activity
  • You may wake up feeling as tired as you did when you went to sleep.
  • Your limbs might feel heavy, and it becomes harder to grasp things or to write
  • Other symptoms, like difficulties with balance, vision or concentration, might also get worse temporarily.

Fatigue affects people in different ways, and it may change from week to week, day to day, or hour to hour.

This can all make it complicated to explain your fatigue to friends, family, colleagues and health and social care professionals. They may unhelpfully ask you to 'make a bit more effort' or 'stop being lazy.'

On the other hand, people close to you can sometimes notice effects of fatigue that you might have grown used to. The more people understand about MS, the more they will be in a better position to offer assistance – perhaps by helping out with a tiring task. 

All kinds of activities can be affected by fatigue: from going to work, to going to the pub, cooking a meal or playing with your children. Balancing these activities can become a daily issue when you’ve got limited reserves of energy. See our page on Treating and managing fatigue for more on coping with fatigue.

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