What Are Weakness and Fatigue?
When a person develops mesothelioma and undergoes treatment, they may experience weakness then fatigue. Weakness causes fatigue, so the terms are often paired together and sometimes thought of as the same thing. Mesothelioma patients with these signs or symptoms will have a significant decrease in strength that makes it harder to move. This can mean difficulty walking or trouble moving parts of the body. Patients with these difficulties will then develop fatigue or excess feelings of tiredness when they try to do these things. Patients may describe themselves as ‘exhausted’ and have the desire to sleep more than before. This symptom of mesothelioma or other cancers is common and happens to over 80 percent of cancer patients.
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Weakness and Fatigue in Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma patients may have cancer-induced fatigue for several reasons, which make it harder to pinpoint. Two mesothelioma patients may also feel weakness for different reasons. Potential reasons could be:
Cancer can sometimes cause patients to get anemia, a condition where red blood cell count is low. Red blood cells move oxygen to other regions in the body, so when a patient gets anemia, it can cause them to feel weak. Tumors cause anemia because when they spread they damage healthy cells, causing inflammation that reduces red blood count.
Mesothelioma treatments may also be the reason patients feel weakness or fatigue. Therapies like chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or immunotherapies among others damage healthy cells as well as cancerous cells and this causes weakness in the body.
The body is already under stress, so it needs a healthy diet to keep its strength up. If a patient isn’t eating properly, their body won’t get the energy food provides and end up feeling ill. Try to drink plenty of fluids and maintain a healthy diet as much as possible.
Pain or other symptoms or side effects of cancer or treatment may cause a person to have trouble sleeping at night. Continuously interrupted sleep will naturally cause a person to feel more tired then before.
Tumors growing and spreading in the body will cause changes and chemical releases in the body that can cause issues. Cytokines are proteins sometimes released by specific cancers that researchers hypothesize cause fatigue.
How to Manage and Cope
There are several things a person can do to cope with feelings of weakness and fatigue. Some things that have helped include:
It’s vital to take some time out of the day for self-care. Take naps (an hour or less) throughout the day to keep up strength.
Try to take it easy. Save energy for the most important tasks. There may also be certain times of the day you feel healthier than others. Make note of when this happens and try to save chores or activities for these times.
Controlled exercise or movement can help keep the body as strong as possible during this difficult time. Talk to your doctor about their recommendation for exercise activities.
You can also talk to your doctor about additional supplements or integrative medicines that may help manage the condition.
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When to Call Your Doctor
Since weakness and fatigue are common symptoms or side effects in mesothelioma patients, it’s usually nothing to worry about. If the condition persists longer than a few weeks or is interfering with everyday tasks, let your doctor know. They may ask you a few questions to assess your situation, so try to be as detailed as possible. If you think you’ve been fatigued for too long, make note of how long you’ve been feeling that way. Your doctor may perform an examination to determine the cause.