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What’s the Difference Between Fatigue and Being Tired?

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Published on February 17, 2015

What is the difference between just being tired and being fatigued?  Dr. Naval Daver from MD Anderson Cancer Center explains the difference and the importance of discussing fatigue with your physician. 

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Transcript | What’s the Difference Between Fatigue and Being Tired?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:

So I want to explore fatigue for just a minute or two.  I take a nap in the afternoon.  Am I fatigued?  

Dr. Daver:

No, that's fine. 

Jeff Folloder:

So a nap is okay?

Dr. Daver:

If you—it depends on how you feel the rest of the day. 

Jeff Folloder:

Now, if I'm taking a two?hour nap, and I'm going to bed at 8:30 in the evening, and I'm getting 10 hours of sleep, and I wake up and I still feel tired, we're starting to get into fatigue now? 

Dr. Daver:

That's fatigue, yeah. 

Jeff Folloder:

How are patients and their caregivers supposed to recognize the difference between just being tired and truly being fatigued?  Because this is a big symptom that needs to be reported. 

Dr. Daver:

I think the patients know.  I think you know—you know, I know when I'm more tired than I should be, and I think the patients know it.  It may be from the drug, again, or it may be from the disease, but again I think it's something that should be brought up to the nurse, physician assistant or physician.  You can tell.  It's just like do you know when you're putting on weight. 

The patient—the person knows on their own.  So if you feel like your quality of life is much worse than a year ago, you're not able to do the things that you like, you have stopped exercising, but you feel like, you know, you wanted to but you just don't have the will to do it, your appetite is going down, things are not just as good as they should be, then that's probably early?onset fatigue. 

There's also psychosomatic component of fatigue, and I think this is very important.  You know, fatigue is not always physical, and it's not always totally from the drugs.  You have been diagnosed with a chronic yet potentially life?threatening disease.  It's going to take a toll mentally on you and create depression. 

I think that's also something you should be discussing with your physician and nurse, because these kinds of support groups, if needed—you know, evaluation by a psychologist, you know, changes in lifestyle, exercise therapy, I think these things go a great way.  Especially in diseases like MPN which are chronic and you're going to have to deal with throughout your life, you need to find a system, exercise, mental activities, hobbies etc., outside of medication that can maybe play 50, 60 percent of the role as much as treatment itself.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.