"I feel exhausted all the time since my stroke.” Sound familiar? You’re not alone - many people experience fatigue after stroke. Fatigue isn’t like ‘normal’ tiredness, which will usually improve with rest. It can have a huge impact on your physical and cognitive recovery, as well as your mental health.
Lucy from our Stroke Helpline shares some information and guidance:
Why am I so tired?
It’s likely to be a mix of physical and emotional factors, though everyone’s different. For many people, ongoing recovery and rehabilitation means learning to use their body in different ways, which often needs a lot of energy. Stroke survivors with chewing or swallowing problems may also struggle to get enough energy and nutrients from their food.
The weeks, months - and sometimes years - after a stroke are often a worrying and frustrating time. Feeling anxious or depressed is incredibly common and can contribute to a sense of fatigue. Some medications will also cause side effects including tiredness.
What treatments are available?
Currently, there’s no specific treatment for post-stroke fatigue. However, speaking to your GP is a good starting point. They can check for any underlying health issues, and consider other factors, such as medication. They can also refer you for further assessments if needed.
There are sensible things that you can do to try to minimise the effects of post-stroke fatigue. Listen to your body – don’t do too much at once, and try to rest when you’re tired. It’s tempting to do more on ‘good days’, but this can sometimes make things worse. Everyday activities, such as eating a meal, watching TV or having a chat to someone can be tiring, so do pace yourself.
How can I help a family member or friend?
Your loved one may ‘look well’ and appear to be making a strong physical recovery from their stroke. But recognising that their fatigue is real and debilitating is very important. Try not to have your own expectations about what they should or shouldn’t be able to do at different stages of their recovery. Give them the time and space to adjust to their ‘new normal’ and remember that sometimes just asking “how are you doing?” can make such a difference.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the summer 2020 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.