Many people experience fatigue after a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke) - a tiredness that doesn't always improve with rest. For some people, it's the most difficult problem they have to manage after a stroke.
Sarah Whitfield from our Stroke Helpline shares some ways to manage fatigue.
What can trigger fatigue?
Triggers for fatigue can be different for each stroke survivor. Some people may find physical activities to be a trigger, whereas others might find that processing a lot of information is particularly tiring. You may notice this tiredness in your body and feel that you need to take a rest, or you may notice it in your ability to think about things or how you react to situations. It's useful to learn what your triggers are so you can manage your energy over time.
How is fatigue treated?
There is no specific medication to treat post-stroke fatigue. However,â€¯it would be worth having a conversation with your GP. They can check for any underlying health conditions that could affect your energy levels, and consider other factors such as side effects to medication. They can also refer you for further assessments if needed.
How can I manage fatigue?
Keep a diary - Do you notice that certain activities, times of the day or being in a particular environment trigger your fatigue?
Prioritise activities - Identify the things you need or want to do the most.
Break tasks down - For example, think about your morning routine. Getting out of bed and ready for the day can involve a lot of different processes. Take it one step at a time, and have a rest between steps if you need to.
Adapt the activity - Can you reduce the energy needed for the activity? For example, sit down for a shower rather than standing. Or if reading makes you tired, try listening to an audiobook.
Pacing - You may find that you have one good day, followed by another where you are completely exhausted. Trial and error will help you to know how much you can do in one go. Listen to your body, and take a break when you need to.
Planning and organising - Use a timetable or calendar to help manage your fatigue. For example, if you have a doctor's appointment, a visit from a friend and a trip to the garden centre planned during the week, leave a more restful day in between to give you the opportunity to recharge.
For more information and support
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the spring 2022 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.