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Cancer Fatigue: Why it occurs and How to cope

Cancer Fatigue: Why it occurs and How to cope

Cancer has become one of the most deadly diseases of our time. The number of new cancer cases in 2021 has already exceeded 19 million worldwide. The disease is becoming more common and invasive every day. Cancer is now one of the leading causes of death.

Fatigue experienced after cancer treatment is known as cancer-related fatigue. Cancer fatigue is quite common. In fact, experiencing fatigue during the course of treatment is said to be so common that 80 to 100 percent of people suffering from cancer have reported having fatigue. 

Even though there are tons of side effects of cancer treatment, fatigue is the most challenging one to deal with. One might feel extremely tired with no or little energy. One might want to get along with their life but fatigue hinders their way. So, if you want to feel better then you might be looking for a way to cope with fatigue.

Causes of cancer fatigue

Cancer fatigue may be caused due to many reasons. There are a lot of factors involved here. It may be due to the disease itself, maybe due to treatment or your body’s response to treatment. Your reason for fatigue might be entirely different from other people suffering from the same disease. Let’s discuss some of the reasons for fatigue.

Cancer itself is quite draining because the cancer cells absorb energy as they proliferate and spread to nearby organs. Depending on the type of cancer, this loss of energy is quite noticeable, unless it has metastasised to organs such as the liver. 

Cancer treatment can also contribute to fatigue. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, etc, can cause fatigue. This may be due to healthy cells being affected by treatment apart from the cancer cells. Your body needs the energy to repair the damaged cells. Apart from this, side effects such as nausea, vomiting, pain, sleeplessness, and mood swings might also lead to fatigue.

Health conditions like Anemia, vitamin D deficiency, etc : You might get anemia due to the treatment you are receiving. Another reason could be cancer cells attacking bone marrow or interfering with blood cell formation. The deficiency of vitamins can be a reason for fatigue.

Pain: Having chronic pain can lead to less sleep, diet changes, might cause depression, etc. This all can lead to fatigue.

Emotions: Anxiety, strain, or despair related to your most cancers analysis might also additionally cause fatigue.

Inability to sleep: If you’re snoozing much less at night time or in case your sleep is often interrupted, you experience fatigue.

Poor nutrition: Having cancer means there is an increase in energy and nutrient requirements. But it might be difficult to get due to treatment, and its side effects like nausea, vomiting, etc. 

Medications: Certain medications can also cause fatigue.

Hormonal changes can also lead to fatigue

Symptoms of cancer-related fatigue:

One thing to note is fatigue is often confused with tiredness. Tiredness is not the same as fatigue. Everyone gets tired after working hard. But if you are completely lacking energy and so tired that even sleeping or taking rest doesn’t help then it can be called fatigue. Cancer fatigue can last for days, unlike tiredness which usually goes away after some time. Symptoms may be tired eyes, stiff shoulders, whole-body tiredness, decreased energy level, inability to concentrate, nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia.

Treatment 

Most people think fatigue is normal, hence they don’t inform their doctors. But discussing every symptom and side effect with doctors is vital to treating fatigue. We will go through some of the ways by which fatigue can be treated.

Medical solutions

Tests can be done to determine the reason for fatigue. Blood tests can be performed to check if you have anemia or a deficiency of vitamins like vitamin D or C. In case of anemia, blood transfusion can be done or nutritional support can be given. Similarly, dietary supplements can be given to treat deficiencies.

For anxiety and depression, proper medicines can give relief to the patients. The same goes for pain management which can be solved by pain relievers. If pain is way too much then you might go to palliative care specialists. They can help you to deal with pain and also with the side effects like nausea, depression, etc.

Exercise regularly: As surprising as it might sound, studies show that staying active is one of the best ways to fight fatigue. Going for a walk outdoors while breathing fresh air can be especially invigorating. Physical activity, including gentle exercises like yoga and tai chi, may also help you sleep better.  

Get mental health support: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you cope with the range of emotions you may feel. Therapy can help you manage stress and may even improve sleep. In-person and online support groups can also provide help.  

Take help from a nutritionist or a dietitian: A nutrition specialist can recommend dietary changes, vitamins, and electrolyte supplements to raise your energy. You can also find foods that won’t aggravate cancer treatment-related side effects like nausea, mouth sores, and diarrhea.  

Practice yoga and mindfulness: Research suggests that mindfulness practices, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture, lessen cancer fatigue. You may also see relaxing martial arts improvements such as massage therapy, meditation, qigong, and tai chi.

Take adequate sleep: Don’t be hard on yourself. Get adequate sleep and also short naps if required. Don’t overdo and conserve your energy by prioritising your work.

Summing up

Cancer-related fatigue is quite common in cancer patients. But it doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. Proper medical attention should be sought for improving the quality of life.

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