Coping with Cancer: Managing Physical Effects for Patient (Fatique and Sleep Disorders)

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Understanding the cause of insomnia helps your doctor find the best way to treat it.

Cancer-related fatigue

Your doctor may ask about the following factors that can contribute to sleeping problems:. The goal for managing insomnia is to achieve restful sleep and improve your overall quality of life.

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Understanding and treating the underlying cause of your insomnia is the best way to do this. First, find potential sources of the insomnia and ask your health care team to help you manage these conditions.

Treatments for Fatigue

One example of this would be restless legs. Restless legs can be caused by low iron in your body, a common condition in people with cancer. Non-medical problems can add to insomnia. These may include financial and work concerns, family changes, and fears related to the cancer worsening or recurring. Behavioral techniques are usually more effective for long-term relief of insomnia. Medications may help relieve insomnia. But you should only use these for a short time unless other treatments do not work.

To help find the cause of insomnia, your doctor will take a thorough history and physical exam. Depending on what your doctor finds, you may need additional testing or visits with specialists. These specialists can help determine the cause and develop a plan to manage the problem.

Tiredness (fatigue) - Macmillan Cancer Support

However, some studies suggest that ESAs may increase the risk of blood clots and that use of an ESA may be associated with a worse outcome. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of ESAs before deciding on this therapy. Psychostimulants stimulate the central nervous system and have been found to enhance alertness and reduce fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis and HIV. Because many people with cancer have sleep complaints, these drugs may be beneficial for easing CRF. Common side effects of methylphenidate include irritability, anorexia, insomnia, nausea and rapid heart rate.

Researchers are studying the benefits of using antidepressants to treat CRF.

Cancer-related fatigue (extreme tiredness)

Take Care of Yourself Try some of these suggestions to deal with your fatigue: Be flexible. Don't measure your energy against how you felt before you were diagnosed. Set realistic goals. Allow yourself to shift your focus from fatigue and what you may not be accomplishing by listening to music, reading a book, meeting friends, watching a movie or going for a walk or a car ride.

Stay active.

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Staying physically fit may help ease fatigue. If you don't already have an exercise regimen, begin one gradually and aim to exercise at least three times a week. Adjust your routine if you feel overly tired. Focus on activities that will help you gradually build strength but won't deplete your energy level. Light activity, such as walking, can help you relax and sleep better. Practice good nutrition. People with cancer are at risk for malnutrition and other problems resulting from either the cancer or treatment side effects.

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Eat a balanced diet that provides sufficient calories, protein, vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Maintain energy levels by eating frequent small meals or snacks throughout the day. Drink plenty of noncaffeinated liquids to help eliminate toxins from the body. For more tips on getting the nutrients you need, see Food and Nutrition.

Manage stress.

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Stress can zap your energy. Try to relieve its effects with exercise, relaxation techniques, meditation, spiritual or religious practices, socializing and counseling. Address sleep habits.

Facts You Should Know About Fatigue

For tips on getting a good night's sleep while undergoing cancer treatment, see Sleep Disturbances. Ask for help. Seek out friends and loved ones who can help you with routine tasks such as shopping, cooking, housekeeping, laundry or driving. Rest when you feel tired. Plan your treatment schedule. Schedule treatment for times when it will have the least impact on your job or other activities. For example, many patients find that scheduling treatment in the afternoon or at the end of the week allows them to be more productive at work. Keep a journal.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Signs of a sleep disorder

Track your fatigue and review your journal entries with your doctor to help him or her determine possible causes, recommend treatment and suggest coping strategies.