Managing Fatigue

Three women in kitchen making a meal.

Fatigue is common. It can be caused by worry, lack of sleep, or poor appetite. Fatigue can also be a sign of anemia, a shortage of red blood cells. You might need medical treatment for anemia. The tips below can help you feel better.

Conserving energy

  • Keep track of the times of day when you are most tired and plan around them. For instance, if you are more tired in the afternoon, try to get tasks done in the morning.

  • Decide which tasks are most important. Do those first.

  • Pass tasks along to others when you need to. Ask for help.

  • Accept help when it’s offered. Tell people what they can do to help. For instance, you may need someone to fix a meal, fold clothes, or put gas in your car.

  • Plan rest times. You may want to take a nap each day. Just sitting quietly for a few minutes can make you feel more rested.

What you can do to feel better

  • Relax before you try to sleep. Take a bath or read for a while.

  • Form a sleep pattern. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.

  • Eat well. Choose foods from all of the food groups each day.

  • Exercise. Take a brisk walk to help increase your energy.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Drink plenty of water or fruit juices instead.

Treating anemia

If you begin to feel more tired than normal, tell your doctor. Fatigue could be a sign of anemia. This problem is fairly common in cancer patients, especially during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. If your red blood cell count is too low, you may get a blood transfusion. In some cases, you may need medicine to increase the number of red blood cells your body makes.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Shortness of breath or chest pain

  • A dizzy feeling when you get up from lying or sitting down

  • Paler skin than normal

  • Extreme tiredness that is not helped by sleep



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