How Addressing Fatigue Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Are you or a loved one living with a serious illness like cancer, COPD, or heart failure? While you may be focused on managing the main symptoms of your illness, there’s another common one that is not often recognized or treated: fatigue.

What is fatigue and what causes it?

Fatigue isn’t just about feeling sleepy. It’s a complex feeling that affects your mind and body, causing you to easily tire, and be unable to do everyday tasks or stay focused. If left unaddressed, it can lessen your quality of life and prevent you from getting the treatment that you need for your illness (e.g., chemotherapy). 

It is very common, affecting more than 80 percent of people living with a serious illness. Even though it’s very common, it doesn’t get talked about or treated enough since it can be hard to tell when you’re feeling it. That said, it’s a symptom that can greatly affect your quality of life. 

Fatigue can be caused by a mix of factors, including the effects of the illness itself, treatments, medications, interruptions in sleep, or even how you feels emotionally.   

Talk to your doctor about how to manage fatigue

As mentioned earlier, recognizing fatigue can be tricky. After all, it’s just one of the many symptoms you’re dealing with, so it’s hard to pinpoint and then discuss with your doctor. But if you check in with yourself or your loved one and realize that fatigue is present, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor may start by asking some questions, doing a physical exam, and running tests to figure out what’s causing it.

There are many treatment options that can help improve your energy and quality of life. Some behavioral techniques can improve how you are feeling, including lifestyle changes like regular exercise and getting enough sleep (adults should aim for at least 7 hours), seeing a counselor for cognitive behavioral therapy, and acupuncture.

It’s important to address fatigue as soon as you recognize it. Bring it up to your health care team, so you can work together to improve your quality of life and better manage your serious illness. 

Treating fatigue can improve your quality of life

Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on treating the symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. If you would like to learn more about the relationship between fatigue, serious illness, and improving quality of life, watch an on-demand webinar today.   

About is an online resource for patients and families that focuses on providing information on palliative care from the point of diagnosis. At you can take a short quiz to see whether you or a loved one could benefit from palliative care. The Palliative Care Provider Directory can help you find a program in your area. The site is provided by the Center to Advance Palliative Care.



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