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Cancer Fatigue: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Cancer Fatigue: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

If you havent been diagnosed with cancer and youre experiencing unexplained, persistent tiredness or lack of energy, you may be wondering if your fatigue could be a symptom of cancer.

While fatigue is a common cancer symptom, cancer rarely causes fatigue alone. Fatigue is often multifactorial, meaning more than one contributing factor may be involved, and none of them may be cancer.

Fatigue is different from tiredness. It is a daily lack of energy unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness that is not relieved by sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one to six months or longer). Fatigue can have a profoundly negative impact on a person's ability to function and quality of life.

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF, sometimes simply called "cancer fatigue") is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatments. Many chronically ill people feel tired. But cancer-related fatigue goes beyond the usual tiredness. People who experience cancer fatigue often describe it as "paralyzing." Usually, it comes on suddenly and is not the result of activity or exertion. With this type of fatigue, no amount of rest or sleep helps. You feel physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted most of the time.

Cancer fatigue may last a few weeks (acute), months, or years (chronic). Chronic cancer fatigue can harm your quality of life.

Is cancer fatigue common?

Cancer-related fatigue is very common and affects 80% to 100% of people with cancer.

How fatigue can affect your daily life

Fatigue can be very frustrating. You and your relatives might underestimate how much it can affect daily life.

Everyday life can be hard work, and you might not have the energy to cook, clean, bathe or go shopping. You might not even feel up to a chat. Things that you used to find second nature or easy are now a task and can be hard work.

You and your doctor can sometimes overlook fatigue, especially if you have other side effects. Its important to tell your doctor or nurse about how youre coping daily and if you are struggling.

Fatigue can affect the way you feel about yourself and your relationships with other people. You can feel very down and not want to go out or be with people, which can be challenging for them to understand.

You might have to stop working or cut down your hours. This can affect how much money you have.

You might feel like fatigue is a constant reminder of your cancer, and this can be hard to accept.

You might worry that because you feel so tired all the time, your cancer could be getting worse. But it is more likely to be a side effect of treatment or due to the fact that cancer can cause fatigue.

Fatigue is very real and can have a significant impact on your life. Let your doctor or nurse know if you think you have symptoms of fatigue. There are ways of managing it, and your medical team will try to help you.

Managing fatigue with ZenOnco:

While fatigue is a natural side effect of chemo and radiation therapy, it can be managed with appropriate Ayurveda consultation and research-based approaches.

The Zen Anti-Cancer Supplements benefits:

  • MediZen Curcumin (Immunity Boost and Inflammation reduction - Natural supplement to manage treatment side effects)
  • MediZen Grape Seed Extract (Antioxidant Boost and Cell Repair - Natural supplement to increase Immunity and Cardio-protection)
  • MediZen Green Tea Extract (Immunity Boost and Metabolism Regulation - Natural tea leaves used to regulate heart health and maintain blood pressure)
  • MediZen Milk Thistle (Detox and Rejuvenation - Natural supplement to cleanse the body, promote digestion and regenerate cells)
  • MediZen Reishi Mushrooms (Stress and Fatigue - Natural supplement to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and reduce pain).

Coping strategies: Medical treatments and self-care

Because many factors may cause cancer-related fatigue, your doctor may suggest multiple methods to reduce and cope with your symptoms. These may include self-care methods and, in some instances, medications or medical procedures.

Medical interventions

Medications may be available to treat the underlying cause of your fatigue. For instance, if your fatigue results from anaemia, blood transfusions may help. Medications that stimulate your bone marrow to produce more red blood cells might be another option.

If you're in a depression, your doctor might suggest medications that can help reduce the depression, increase appetite and improve your well-being.

Improving your ability to sleep can help relieve fatigue. Sometimes medication can be effective in helping you sleep.

Adequate pain management can go a long way in decreasing fatigue, but certain pain medications can make fatigue worse, so work with your doctor to achieve the appropriate balance.

Medications to increase alertness might be an option in certain situations.

Self-care options

Coping with fatigue might require things you can do on your own. You might try to:

  • Take it easy. Set aside time in your day to rest. Take short naps no longer than an hour throughout the day rather than resting for one long period.
  • Conserve your energy. Save your energy for your most important activities. Keep track of the times when you feel your best, and plan to do your important activities during those times. Ask for help when needed.
  • Maintain your energy. Drinking fluids and eating well can help keep your energy reserves up. If nausea and vomiting make eating hard, talk to your doctor about these side effects.
  • Get moving. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, riding a bike and swimming, throughout the week may help you preserve your energy level. Exercise regularly as you start treatment. You'll get into the exercise routine, which may help you prevent fatigue during treatment.
    If you haven't exercised much lately, check with your doctor before you begin to make sure it's safe. Then, start slow and work your way up to at least 150 minutes of exercise a week or a half-hour on five days each week. Add strength training, such as lifting weights, a few times a week.
  • Consider integrative medicine options. Some people with cancer find relief from fatigue through meditation, yoga and other mindfulness practices that encourage relaxation. Massage and acupuncture can be helpful, too. But check with your doctor to ensure these are safe, especially if your blood counts are low or you're taking blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor about supplements. Supplements that contain ginseng have been shown to relieve fatigue in small studies. If you're interested in trying supplements, discuss them with your doctor, as ginseng and other supplements can interfere with medications.

Don't assume the fatigue you're experiencing is just part of the cancer experience. If it's frustrating or affecting your ability to go about your day, it's time to talk with your doctor.

Expert Advice:

While there are numerous Ayurvedic substances that a patient can use, the first is meditation and chanting stotras for mental and psychological well-being. It is when you think good and positively that you exhibit the same thoughts. This will assist you in uniting with the entire universe and the universe within you, which is the whole and sole purpose of the ancient science of Ayurveda. It can help you keep your overall health in check by healing the natural forces within you. True, no medicine can help you unless you help yourself. As a result, it is critical to take care of your body and engage with your mind as a whole. These natural remedies will help to ground and rejuvenate your body.

Cancer patients can also take ayurvedic herbs and combinations with medicinal properties such as Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Triphala, Amalkhi, Curcumin, Chyawanprash (if non-diabetic), Manas Mitra Vatakam, Churna, and Kanchenar Guggul in addition to these internal remedies. Certain anticancer drugs, such as Kalmegh, Panchamrut Praval Tablet, Himalaya Styplon Tablets, and Laksha Churna, are also very effective in treating cancer-related fatigue. However, because cancer treatment is highly case-sensitive, a patient must consult a cancer ayurveda specialist to determine the appropriate dosage of these anti-cancer herbs and drugs for their cancer type and body to manage fatigue and other side effects during cancer treatment.

According to experts, any cancer patient must take the following three Ayurvedic anticancer drugs:

  1. Immunity enhancers
  2. Cancer-specific drug
  3. Chemo and radiation side-effect management or reducing drug

Home Remedies for Fatigue in Cancer Treatment

  • Water Hydration: Regular hydration is crucial. Drinking at least 8 cups of water daily is recommended to prevent dehydration, a common cause of fatigue.
  • Green Tea: A cup of green tea can be a revitalizing choice. It contains caffeine for a gentle energy boost and antioxidants that support overall well-being.
  • Ginseng: Incorporate ginseng either as a supplement or tea. Ginseng is valued for its natural energy-enhancing and revitalizing properties.
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes each day can significantly uplift energy levels and improve mood, aiding overall wellness.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Practicing deep breathing for 5-10 minutes can enhance oxygen flow to the brain, contributing to increased alertness and reduced fatigue.
  • Bananas: As a natural energy source, bananas provide quick energy due to their natural sugars and essential nutrients.
  • Sleep Hygiene: Consistent sleep patterns and aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep per night are vital for energy restoration and combating fatigue.
  • Peppermint Oil: Inhaling peppermint essential oil or using it in a diffuser can help sharpen focus and boost energy levels.
  • Vitamin B12 Supplements: Vitamin B12 is critical for energy production in the body, and supplements can help in cases of deficiency.
  • Magnesium Supplements: Magnesium is essential for energy metabolism, and its supplementation can aid in improving energy levels.
  • Coconut Water: Drinking coconut water can rehydrate the body efficiently, thanks to its natural electrolyte content.
  • Yoga: Regular yoga practice, for about 20-30 minutes daily, can increase energy levels and reduce stress, improving overall vitality.
  • Almonds: Consuming a handful of almonds provides healthy fats, protein, and magnesium, all of which contribute to sustained energy levels.

  • Maca Root: Maca root, taken as a supplement or added to smoothies, is believed to enhance stamina and energy levels.
  • Citrus Fruits: Oranges and grapefruits, rich in Vitamin C, help in better nutrient absorption and provide a quick energy boost.
  • Iron-Rich Foods: Eating iron-rich foods like spinach helps combat fatigue, especially if its due to iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Chia Seeds: A tablespoon of chia seeds in water can be a great energy source, thanks to their Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber content.
  • Beet Juice: Drinking beet juice supplies nitrates that improve blood flow and energy levels.

  • Avocado: Eating an avocado provides healthy fats and fiber, ensuring a steady release of energy over time.
  • Quinoa: Including quinoa in meals offers a steady source of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release.

These home remedies are a natural and accessible way to manage fatigue, especially beneficial for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Common Questions Patients Ask:

  1. How effective are Ayurvedic medicines in treating symptoms like fatigue?

Ayurveda is extremely effective in treating fatigue, which is a common side effect of cancer treatment. It is one of the most natural remedies to manage fatigue and low energy in cancer patients, due to the utilisation of natural herbs. In fact, certain herbs, such as Ashwagandha, Shatavari, and Triphala, are specifically designed to reduce stress and fatigue. Additionally, some herbs, such as Brahmi and Bhringraj, remove toxins from the body to promote calm, which ultimately aids in the release of fatigue in patients.

  1. Will these Ayurvedic medicines have any side effects in cancer patients?

If taken with proper consultation and dosage, these Ayurvedic medicines usually have no side effects on the body. While Ayurveda is the most ancient and effective science, it is divided into three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is therefore critical to have your medical records reviewed by a cancer-specific Ayurveda expert in order to effectively manage cancer-related side effects such as fatigue, depression, and insomnia.

  1. What causes fatigue and weakness in cancer patients?

Cancer patients may experience weakness as a result of undergoing and recovering from surgery, having low blood counts or electrolyte (blood chemistry) levels, infection, or changes in hormone levels.

However, because of the presence of multiple factors, the causes of cancer-related fatigue are frequently difficult to pinpoint. It could be the result of cancer or a side effect of cancer treatment. While the precise cause of cancer-related fatigue and treatment is unknown, some possibilities include:

  • Cancer and cancer treatment can cause or exacerbate fatigue by altering normal protein and hormone levels, which are linked to inflammatory processes.
  • Treatments kill both normal and cancer cells, resulting in cell waste buildup. Your body expends extra energy to clean up and repair damaged tissue.
  • Cancer causes the body to produce toxic substances that disrupt the normal function of cells.
  • Aside from the direct effects of cancer and its treatment, cancer patients frequently experience other factors that can contribute to fatigue, such as surgery, stress and worry, changes in activity level, and changes in blood counts, electrolytes, and hormone levels.

  1. What non-medical factors cause fatigue in cancer patients? Is it also dependent on ones psyche?

Cancer is such a heavy word that it saps half of a patient's confidence and motivation and jeopardizes his or her mental and emotional well-being. Furthermore, the high costs of each cycle or treatment undermine the patient's confidence and ability to continue the treatment, leaving their families to bear the burden of the medical bills. This adds to the patients' tensions and stresses, resulting in a loss of mental and physical energy/fatigue.

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