Talking to your doctor or nurse about fatigue

It’s important to talk about your experience of fatigue with your healthcare team as there may be things that can be done to help you feel better.

Your doctor will check for any causes of fatigue that can be treated. They may examine you and may organise some blood tests.

It can sometimes be difficult for your healthcare team to understand how much fatigue is affecting your life and how distressing it is. You may need to emphasise the difficulties that fatigue is causing to your doctors and nurses.

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 show it to the healthcare professionals looking after you.

It can often be difficult to discuss emotions, especially when you are ill, for fear of upsetting yourself and others. But it can really help to talk about your feelings with your doctors and nurses.

Here are some 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?
  • What medicines am I taking that may affect my energy level?
  • How much activity and exercise should I do?

Drug treatments for fatigue

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. But they can have side effects, so you should discuss the possible benefits and disadvantages with your doctor.

Research into other drug treatments is ongoing. You may be asked to take part in a trial. Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you further information about any drug trials that may be suitable for you.

Back to Tiredness (fatigue)

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is feeling very tired most, or all, of the time. It is a very common problem for people with cancer.

What causes fatigue?

The cause of cancer-related-fatigue (CRF) is not fully understood. There are thought to be many reasons for it.

Tips for a better night's sleep

Good-quality sleep is very important when you are tired. There are things you can do to help improve the quality of your sleep.

Managing your fatigue

Making some simple changes to your diet and exercise routine and learning how to relax may help you to manage symptoms of fatigue.

Support if you have fatigue

There is support available if you have fatigue. You might find it helps to talk to a counsellor or join a support group.