Fatigue is common after stroke, with 50 per cent of survivors in one study saying tiredness was their main problem twelve months on.
Fatigue can affect anyone who has had a transient ischaemic attack or a stroke. It does not matter how mild or severe the stroke.
Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness or a lack of energy that is not improved by rest. Symptoms of fatigue can include headache, dizziness, blurred vision, increased pain, aching muscles and reduced coordination and balance. Other symptoms include ‘brain fog’, impaired memory and decision-making, moodiness or irritability, anxiety and depression or low motivation.
The cause of fatigue after stroke remains unclear but one simple explanation is that cognitive, physical and sensory changes mean that everything takes more effort. There’s also the theory that the neuroplasticity involved in recovery is a physical process, which is actually fatiguing. For some stroke survivors fatigue improves over time, whilst for others it can be persistent and debilitating.
Despite fatigue being so prevalent after stroke, it isn’t always discussed until it becomes problematic. Fatigue can affect all areas of your life, including your ability to participate in rehabilitation.
If you are living with fatigue, it’s important to be realistic about how much you can do. Plan shorter periods of activity, and slot in rest periods when needed. Survivors often recommend focusing on what is most important and learning to say “I’m sorry, I can’t at the moment” when necessary. Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting exercise is also important.
There are lots of things that you can do to help better manage fatigue. Speak to your doctor or a health professional for advice on reducing the impact of fatigue on your life.
Most people get very tired after a stroke.
This is called fatigue.
Fatigue after stroke is different to other types of fatigue
After stroke, the Fatigue you feel does not go away even if you rest.
It can last a long time.
Signs of fatigue
Signs of fatigue:
- You have a headache.
- You are dizzy.
- Your vision is blurred.
- You are in pain.
- Your muscles ache.
- You have trouble with coordination and balance.
- You feel like there is fog in your brain.
- It is hard to remember things.
- It is hard to make decisions.
- You are moody, anxious or sad.
Cause of fatigue
We don’t really know why you feel fatigue after a stroke.
It could be because everything is much harder work after a stroke.
It could also be because your brain is healing itself.
This is a physical process that can be very tiring.
Recovering from fatigue
Some people will get better from fatigue.
Other people find that fatigue does not go away with time.
Fatigue can stop you doing things that will help you get better.
What you can do
Be realistic about how much you can do.
Plan short activities and rest when you need to.
Do the most important tasks first.
Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water.
Make sure other conditions you have are being treated well. This could include diabetes, atrial fibrillation and/or high blood pressure
Talk to your general practitioner.
They might suggest you have a blood test.