Post-stroke fatigue is more than just feeling tired – it is a feeling of no energy, constant weariness, and dizziness. Even if you have successfully recovered from your stroke, fatigue can still be a problem for you. Napping won’t seem to help this kind of fatigue, as it tends to linger regardless of how much rest you’ve gotten. It’s likely that you will need to rest every day and will have a hard time taking part in everyday activities. It can be extremely hard on a stroke survivor, especially if friends and family don’t pick up on the symptoms and genuinely don’t understand how tired you are.
Who Is More Likely To Have Post-Stroke Fatigue?
There have been several studies that attempt to determine who is more likely to experience fatigue after a stroke, but this research is inconclusive and requires more testing. One study shows that women, older people, and those who suffered from fatigue before their stroke are most likely to experience it. However, other studies show that younger people and those
who were in shape before the stroke took place can also experience stroke-induced chronic fatigue. The bottom line is that this is a very common post-stroke condition that almost every type of survivor will battle with.
What Causes Post-Stroke Fatigue?
Fatigue after a stroke is likely a mix of physical and emotional factors. In the weeks and months following a stroke, the brain and body are healing. This recovery process takes a lot of energy out of a person and can lead to months of chronic fatigue. This type of tiredness can range from mild to severe, but it does not depend on the severity of the stroke – that is, someone who suffered a severe and debilitating stroke can have the same or an even lesser amount of fatigue than someone who suffered a mild stroke. It all depends on your body and your healing process. Fatigue is common to see after different types of stroke, including hemorrhagic and ischemic. However, it is more likely to experience fatigue after stroke than a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).
Stroke survivors are likely to experience some type of physical or mental disability after the incident, due to brain damage. This can make daily activities difficult and decrease the quality of life. As a result, you may feel low in energy due to these disabilities; for example, walking and talking may take more energy than they did before the stroke, quickly leading to fatigue. Emotional issues such as depression and anxiety can also contribute to fatigue. There is an increased chance of depression and anxiety in stroke survivors, which has been shown to contribute to fatigue.
There are several other factors that can contribute to post-stroke fatigue, including conditions such as sleep disorders (insomnia), sleep-related breathing disorders (obstructive sleep apnea), deficiencies (anemia), diabetes, an underactive thyroid gland, or comorbid conditions. There are also several medications that are linked to fatigue and can contribute to tiredness after a stroke. These include beta-blockers for high blood pressure, drugs for epilepsy, painkillers, and antidepressants. In newer research, fatigue is suggested to be associated with inflammatory cells and hormones, such as cortisol, which are thrown out of balance after a stroke.
How Do I Know If I Have Post-Stroke Fatigue?
Unfortunately, there is no specific medication for post-stroke fatigue, but there are many things you can do to alleviate the day-to-day strain. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis from a stroke specialist to determine if there are any other causes that may be contributing to the fatigue, such as medications, illnesses, etc. This is generally done with a blood test and a physical evaluation. Before taking any drastic measures to rid yourself of fatigue, like quitting a medication cold-turkey, discuss it with your doctor.
How To Manage Post-Stroke Fatigue?
Being exhausted all the time after a stroke is completely normal and more common than you think. Here are 5 steps you can take to help you cope with and manage your fatigue:
- Your fatigue may not be obviously visible to other people, so they might not understand just how tired you are. This can be frustrating, especially if they don’t know how to help you. Provide your family and friends with a factsheet to better understand what is going on, or have them read about how to care for a stroke survivor.
- Give yourself time to recover and be patient. It can take many months before fatigue starts to go away after a stroke. The more you push yourself, the more tired you are likely to feel. Although it is important to participate in physical therapy and rehabilitation during stroke recovery, it is not good to try too much too soon. Talk to your doctor about how much you should be doing each day to make sure you don’t exhaust your body.
- Learn to pace yourself by taking proper breaks before or after doing things. Things like having a conversation, riding in a car, or eating a meal can be incredibly hard on fatigued stroke survivors. It is important to listen to your body and rest when it is needed.
- Read up on proper rehabilitative exercises and activities that can help you regain movement and confidence. It is good to maintain some level of exercise, as this can help to improve fatigue. Again, make sure to discuss any exercises with your doctor.
- Seek support! This condition can be very worrying and frustrating, especially when dealt with alone. Your doctor or occupational therapist can help you contact different types of support systems, such as a support group, counselor, relaxation program, exercise group, or alternative therapies.
If you or a loved one have suffered a stroke, learn more about CBC Health’s revolutionary stroke recovery treatment. Call us at (855) 253-8601 or contact us through our website. Read through our frequently asked questions about stroke, treatment, and recovery to learn more!