Talking to your doctor or nurse about fatigue
Your care and well-being is the doctors' and nurses' priority, so it's important to describe your symptoms to them.
Preparing for your appointment
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Prepare for your next appointment with your doctor or nurse by writing down any questions that you want to ask (see next page). Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to repeat or explain anything that you don’t understand. It may help to take a relative or friend with you and to have a notebook to jot down any information, as it can be difficult to remember what’s been said when you have fatigue.
It can sometimes be difficult for your healthcare team to understand how much fatigue is affecting your life and how distressing it is. It’s important to describe your symptoms to them. You may need to emphasise to your doctors and nurses the difficulties that fatigue is causing.
Tell them about the activities you find difficult, such as climbing stairs, cooking or bathing. Let them know if anything makes the fatigue better or worse. If you have kept a fatigue diary, you can take it with you and show it to the healthcare professionals looking after you.
Your doctor will look for any causes of your fatigue that can be treated. They may examine you and may organise some blood tests.
It can often be difficult to discuss emotions, especially when you are ill, for fear of upsetting yourself and others. Try not to let embarrassment stop you discussing your feelings with your doctors and nurses.
Here are some specific questions you may like to ask:
What could be causing my fatigue?
What treatments may help?
How can I cope with my fatigue?
What help is available?
What can I do to help reduce my fatigue?
You may find it helpful to make a note of any questions you might want to ask, and the answers you receive.
At the moment, there aren’t any licensed drug treatments to help prevent or improve fatigue. Steroid drugs, such as dexamethasone, can sometimes be helpful. Your specialist can discuss this with you.
Research into other drug treatments is ongoing. You may be asked to take part in a clinical trial. Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you further information about any drug trials that you may be suitable for.