Fight Back Against Fatigue

Written by: Sabrina Martini BSc. Neuroscience

Unfortunately, if you’re experiencing any neuropathic complications, there is a good chance you’re likewise experiencing fatigue. This is a central component to many neuropathies and the causes are often complex and many. Don’t let this hinder your lifestyle though because we have come up with some tips and tricks for dealing with fatigue.

Where Does Your Fatigue Come From?
Fatigue is a side effect of one of two things:

  1. This fatigue is generally derived from an initial weakness of muscles which increases as the damage of motor nerves expands. Fatigue is felt because fewer muscles can engage to move a body part and as such your muscles are working significantly harder.
  2. Fatigue of course may also result from pain which hinders sleep.
  3. Medications may be contributing to fatigue problems.
  4. And finally, emotional stress.

What to Do When You Experience Fatigue:

  • ­Do NOT feel guilty about your fatigue. This is a central part of neuropathy and as such one mustn’t associate negative feelings with this and instead must relax and rest when fatigue strikes.
  • Identify when fatigue periods occur. Its common for a pattern of fatigue to arises at certain times in your routine and as such it is beneficial to structure your day around it if possible.
Three people sitting on a bench asleep.

Fatigue sneaks up on you, so REST!

  • REST! Its not necessary to sleep when fatigued but any sort of rest is very beneficial.
  • Speak with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to provide you with medications that can help with insomnia and pain that prevent you from getting the important sleep your body needs. Your doctor may look further into your sleeplessness to see if it is from a deficiency or other manageable cause. For example: low calcium, potassium or magnesium levels can cause muscle spasms hindering sleep. Your doctor may also explore if it is due to something like thyroid issues.

 

Combat Fatigue With:

Food

Certain dietary changes are shown to increase your energy and reduce fatigue. Firstly, ensure you are eating enough protein. Protein contains an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor for a neurotransmitter, that helps to fight emotional fatigue by promoting a calm and relaxed state of mind. Another amino acid protein contains is tyrosine which is a precursor for norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine promote alertness, attention and motivation and therefore fight fatigue.  Secondly, be sure you’re obtaining enough iron in your diet because iron enables blood to carry oxygen to your organs and without this your brain cannot function properly, again leading to feelings of fatigue. This is most common with women. Finally, eating an overall healthy diet one which provides you with all the essential vitamins and minerals. Keep in mind that a healthy body promotes healing and clarity of mind.

Hydration

An absolute must! You should drink plenty of water. Even mild dehydration reduces blood flow to organs which slows down the brain leading us once again to fatigue.

Supplements

Consider supplements a natural remedy for reducing symptoms of fatigue. As with all supplement use speak to your doctor prior to taking anything to ensure you don’t have reactions with medications being taken.  Below lists three common supplements known to combat fatigue:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium helps energy levels by maintaining healthy blood pressure, keeping blood oxygenated and ensuring muscles function properly. Magnesium is commonly taken at 310-420 milligrams per day.
  • Creatine: Creatine reduces fatigue and promotes effective energy usage by creating large phosphate stores in the body in turn replenishing the energy molecule ATP. This usage of creatine phosphate allows the body’s cells to save their glucose stores for later retrieval thus reducing fatigue. There has been controversy about long-term creatine use so please consult your doctor prior to starting use of this supplement. Anyone with kidney issues should be particularly cautious.
  • Ginseng: Ginseng is known for providing energy and reducing fatigue.

Graded Exercise
You may be wondering how you could even consider exercise when you’re so overcome with fatigue. Let me tell you, it is well worth it. Graded exercise starts out very slowly and increases in small steps which is perfect for neuropathy sufferers. Light aerobic exercises such as walking helps you to feel more energetic. Start out with small periods of low impact walking. A few minutes at a time will do and its easy to work it into your day. Then gradually increase as you become more comfortable.

Fatigue can appear to be another daunting symptom of neuropathy but don’t it get in the way of who you are and who you want to be!

References

 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Using Graded Exercise to Get More Energy. 
(n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/
chronic-fatigue-syndrome/graded-exercise-for-chronic-fatigue-syndrome

Cochrane. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2017, from http://www.cochrane.org
/CD008146/NEUROMUSC_treatments-for-fatigue-in-peripheral-neuropathy

LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS. 
(2016, September 29). Fatigue in Peripheral Neuropathy. Retrieved 
May 23, 2017, from https://www.neuropathyjournal.org/
fatigue-in-peripheral-neuropathy/

Neuropathy and Fatigue. (2016, January 23). Retrieved May 23, 2017, 
from http://neuropathydr.com/neuropathy-and-fatigue/