Fatigue caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) is among the most common symptoms of the disease, and one that can take a serious toll on work and home life.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) estimates that 80 percent of people with MS experience fatigue, and a study published in March 2021 in Multiple Sclerosis Journal revealed similar estimates internationally. After surveying patients with MS in Norway, researchers found that fatigue affected 81 percent of people, and noted a higher prevalence of fatigue in women (83 percent) compared with men (78 percent). Their study also suggested that fatigue was more common in people with greater disability, depression, anxiety, and excessive sleepiness during the day.
Often called “lassitude,” according to the NMSS, fatigue related to MS has unique effects on people with the condition:
It happens every day and often comes on suddenly.
It can affect you as you’re starting your day, even if you slept well the night before, and often gets worse as the day goes on.
Heat and humidity can intensify fatigue.
It’s often more severe than normal fatigue and can interfere with your ability to function throughout the day.
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.
There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.