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Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis

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Updated July 31, 2009

More than anything, the fatigue that comes with multiple sclerosis (MS) is what makes one a member of the “MS club.” Virtually all of us (experts estimate 85% to 95%) experience it, and people that do not have multiple sclerosis have never experienced the “special” nature of MS-related fatigue. Moreover, it is an invisible symptom, unlike a limp or a tremor. It is often difficult to get sympathy or understanding for this type of problem, even though fatigue can be the most debilitating part of having MS.

What Does Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue Feel Like?

While everyone experiences “being tired” occasionally, the fatigue associated with MS has certain characteristics:
  • It occurs daily.
  • It may be present in the morning, even after a good night’s sleep.
  • It worsens as the day progresses.
  • Heat and humidity aggravate it.
  • It comes on suddenly.
  • It's more severe than normal fatigue and more likely to interfere with daily life.
For some people, there are additional related symptoms, including:
  • Feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs
  • Worsening of other symptoms, such as problems with balance or vision, or slurring speech
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Feeling ill, like you have the flu
  • Depression

Learn More

Read these articles to learn more about MS-related fatigue:

Sources:

Turkington, Carol. The A to Z of Multiple Sclerosis. New York: Checkmark Books. 2005.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Fatigue

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