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Symptom Management

Fatigue

Fatigue is common among patients with life-threatening diseases.

Fatigue can be caused by:

The disease
Medical problems related to the disease or treatment, like anemia
Treatments for the disease (for cancer patients, as an example, fatigue may be caused by radiation or chemotherapy)
Other medication
Immobility
Sleep disturbance
Depression and anxiety

Management of fatigue can include having the patient:

Conserve energy whenever possible, and learn techniques of energy and time management
Learn to improve sleep
Learn to use exercise or physical therapy

Medications used to treat fatigue include:

Psychostimulants, such as methylphenidate or pemoline
Low-dose corticosteroids (e.g., dexamethasone or prednisone)
Amantadine (for fatigue related to multiple sclerosis)
Antidepressants
Erythropoietin for fatigue caused by anemia

Friends and family can help by being responsive to the patient's pace. Activities and/or conversations can be saved for periods when the patient feels that he or she would enjoy them.

Here is more information on managing fatigue.

 

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