The causes of fatigue and how to resolve it quickly

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is a feeling of over- tiredness, weakness, or exhaustion. The difference between feeling tired and fatigue is that you do not feel refreshed after you rest or sleep. This can make it challenging to get up in the morning, go to work, do your usual activities or simply make it through your day.

What causes fatigue?

Cancer treatment can increase your body's energy needs by weakening your muscles, damaging your organs, or altering your body's hormones, while the primary cause of fatigue is when cancer cells are killed along with healthy ones. This causes your body to work extremely hard to repair the damage caused, which leaves you feeling tired. However, fatigue may also be caused by a number of other factors in your life. From  stress and  anxiety to what you eat.

The following are my top tips for giving your body the extra energy it needs between treatments and recovery.

How to overcome cancer fatigue

Drink Plenty of Water
  • Dehydration is a common side effect of cancer treatment due to side effects, like fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea or excessive urination.
  • As dehydration sets in, your blood pressure drops, leading to poor circulation and reduced blood flow to your brain. This causes feelings of sleepiness and increase side effects of chemo brain. 

Eating Habits 

  • Avoid skipping meals. If struggling with this, eat regular meals and healthy snacks every 3 to 4 hours, rather than a large meal. 
  • Eating an afternoon or morning snack, such as a handful of almonds, if energy levels dip.

Get Moving

  • A 15 minute walk can give you an energy boost and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity. 

Sleep Well 

  • Going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day.
  • Relaxing before bed. 
  • Try aromatherapy or music if struggling to sleep.
Rest Well 
  • Rest, but not too much. Take short naps or rest breaks (30 minutes or less)
  • Too much rest can lower your energy level and make it harder to sleep at night.
  • Plan your day so you have time to rest. 

Reduce Stress 

  • Stress uses up a lot of energy! 
  • Deep breathing is a great and easy way to relax you. 
  • Whatever relaxes you will improve your energy.

Cut out caffeine

  • Best way to do this is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks over a 3-week period.
  • Caffeine is found in 

    coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, some painkillers and herbal remedies.
  • Replace coffee with herbal teas and smoothies. 

 Plan Ahead 

  • Each day, prioritise – decide which things are most important to you and focus on those tasks. 
  • Spread activities throughout the day and take breaks.
  • Do things slowly, so that you don't use too much energy at once.


Discover more tips -  'The importance of Hydration' 

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