Fatigue and Ways to Deal With It When You Have EDS
Fatigue is common to people with a chronic disease, and a likely constant companion to those with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Here are some tips to help you manage fatigue, and possibly get relief.
Fatigue is difficult to quantify
Fatigue is called chronic if it’s been present for more than six months and not relieved by rest. Because feelings of fatigue can be subjective and difficult to quantify, or treat, clinicians sometimes disregard it.
Chronic fatigue is burdensome, however, and affects quality of life.
Fatigue in EDS
EDS is the name given to a group of connective tissue disorders characterized by collagen deficiency that diminishes the strength of ligaments, tendons, muscles, skin, and blood vessels.
Fatigue is particularly common in hypermobile EDS (hEDS).
Contributing factors can include sleep disorders, muscle deconditioning (loss of muscle tone and endurance), headaches, and nutritional deficiencies. It is important to exclude other causes, such as anemia or a chronic infection.
In most cases, fatigue in hEDS results from chronic pain.
Ways to deal with fatigue
You and your physician should discuss the possible causes of fatigue, its impact, and stages of management. While no treatment directly targets fatigue, certain medications effectively address problems that may end up causing it.
For example, prescription analgesics and antidepressants used to control pain may indirectly help to relieve fatigue. Controlling autonomic heart dysfunction, blood pressure, and nighttime urination may also help.
Other possible ways to alleviate fatigue include:
Conserve your energy and pace yourself, making sure you get enough rest between activities.
Using relaxation techniques
Common relaxation techniques may help in the management of pain, sleep, and anxiety. They include progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, and music and art therapy.
Making lifestyle changes
Improving overall fitness, sleeping patterns, hydration, and diet can also help. In addition, cognitive-behavioral therapy may help you change any unhealthy habits that may cause or add to fatigue.
While there’s limited evidence supporting the use of nutritional supplements, some like carnitine, co-enzyme Q10, and 5-HTP may be recommended. Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor before taking any, however, since some supplements can interact with certain medications, and there are no specific dose recommendations for hEDS.
What to avoid
Since sleep problems can make fatigue worse, avoid caffeine and sugar, large meals, watching television, looking at a computer or smartphone screen, and doing anything that might be emotionally upsetting within a few hours of bedtime. Taking a warm bath, and reading a book or magazine may be helpful.
Last updated: May 27, 2020
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