You may notice that even on a relaxing day, you become very tired in the afternoon. Or you may find that you cannot finish projects because you are suddenly overwhelmed by fatigue. You may be unable to keep your eyes open or feel as if you cannot move out of your chair. Tasks that were once simple may seem too complicated to understand. All of these symptoms can be attributed to fatigue.
While sleepiness may be caused by pain medication - especially when taking a new prescription or dosage -fatigue is usually not caused by medication. If pain medicine is used correctly, you will probably feel more energized, not less, because you are sleeping better and not worn out by the pain itself.
Fatigue is caused by the cancer. In a process not fully understood by medical science, the cancer cells release toxins. Like any toxic substance, these cytotoxins weaken your system. As your body attempts to fight the foreign materials released by the cancer cells,
you become tired and feverish, just as you do when fighting any illness. The liver and the kidneys may be strained, and begin to fail.
As mentioned in the section, "Low Blood Counts," the number one cause of fatigue is impairment of the bone marrow and its inability to produce enough red blood cells to provide your body with the oxygen it needs.
Depending on the cause of the fatigue, blood transfusions or cha
nges in medication or the use of oxygen may help. So, too, may changes in lifestyle.
Fatigue is one of the most insidious and most irritating symptoms of cancer's progress. It can come upon you suddenly, giving you the feeling that all the energy has drained out of your body and you cannot move another step. You may find yourself panting after one flight of stairs. Or you may simply take less pleasure in events and people because you are tired.