Tips for Dealing With Post-Stroke Fatigue

Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil Mitchell MD, MS on October 30th, 2019

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Have you recently had a stroke and now feel more tired than usual? Most adults need a midday caffeine boost, but post-stroke fatigue takes it to a whole new level. People who have had a stroke often feel extreme fatigue—not only during the 3 p.m. slump, but far more often. And post-stroke fatigue isn’t always just physical—it can be mental, too, including symptoms like memory loss, emotional turbulence, and self-control issues. If your post-stroke fatigue is affecting your daily life and making it difficult to perform tasks that require physical or mental focus, it might be time to learn more about what you can do to manage it. 

What is Post-Stroke Fatigue? 

Post-stroke fatigue is different from normal tiredness in that it isn’t usually relieved by rest. Some people who have had a stroke complain of fatigue in the morning even after a full night’s sleep. This type of fatigue can be unrelenting, often persisting despite naps and other restful moments throughout the day. 

Post-stroke fatigue also isn’t directly correlated to how active you’ve been. Most people feel tired after a long day of running errands or a particularly stressful day at work, but many people who have had a stroke feel fatigued even on slow, restful days. If you find yourself gravitating toward the couch to rest after something as simple as making your morning coffee, post-stroke fatigue may be affecting you. 

The unrelentingness of post-stroke fatigue can make daily life difficult, forcing you to cut visits with friends short or opt out of activities with family due to being tired. And not only can fatigue persist for awhile after stroke recovery, but it’s also an invisible symptom that others can’t see, making it difficult for others to understand what you’re going through. That’s why it’s so important to be your own advocate and seek management tips in order to help you get back to your normal self again.

What Causes It?

The cause of post-stroke fatigue isn’t entirely understood, but it can usually be attributed to a combination of a few factors, including: 

  • Healing. Recovering from a stroke is no walk in the park—it takes a lot of your body’s energy. Even when you may think you’re at rest, your body is still working extra hard to heal, contributing to that unrelenting tiredness. 
  • Physical issues. Lingering physical problems from the stroke, including things like memory problems, weakness, or balance issues, can make some tasks more difficult.
  • Emotional problems. Around 30% of people who have had a stroke develop post-stroke depression. Depression symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating—if you’re experiencing any symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor about it. 

Is Post-Stroke Fatigue Common?

In short? Yes. Post-stroke fatigue affects as many as 72% of people who have had a stroke. That includes stroke patients who experience fatigue due to any number of causes, including disability issues resulting from a stroke, difficulty adjusting to life after a stroke, and emotional issues.

Fortunately, post-stroke fatigue can wane with time and altered lifestyle choices, the latter of which will play the biggest role in your recovery. Some patients will never feel much relief from post-stroke fatigue, but there are things you can do to mitigate the situation and help yourself get back to normal.

Helpful Tips 

  • Eat healthy. The best thing you can do for your body while it heals is to provide the best fuel possible. Eat a vitamin- and nutrient-rich diet and try to avoid overly processed foods. 
  • Talk to your doctor. Fatigue can be a symptom of depression, along with symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Your doctor can help determine if this is an underlying cause of your fatigue and explore options with you.
  • Exercise. Exercise has been proven to drastically reduce fatigue. Before you engage in any fitness regimen, though, make sure to talk to your doctor and physical therapist about any limitations you might have due to your stroke. They can help you come up with the right fitness routine for your needs and help you address balance issues or uncoordination. 
  • Talk to your family and friends. Since fatigue is invisible to others, it’s a good idea to bring your support system into the loop of what you’re dealing with. That way, they can provide support to help you manage post-stroke fatigue.

How DispatchHealth Can Help

Post-stroke fatigue—and other things you’re dealing with as you recover from a stroke—can make it tough to return to daily life. Whereas, before the stroke, traveling to the urgent care clinic or emergency room for a problem like the flu or a sprained ankle was no problem, now’s a different story. If you’re too fatigued to travel to the doctor, DispatchHealth can help. We provide in-home medical care for people who have had a stroke and are too tired to get behind the wheel of a car. Our qualified medical professionals can be at your doorstep within a few hours.

We accept most major medical insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we also offer an affordable flat rate for uninsured patients. All you have to do is download our app, use our website, or give us a call to request care. Fatigue is difficult enough to manage without having to deal with crowded waiting rooms when you need medical attention—we’re standing by to provide the care you need within the comfort of your own home.

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317313/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515899/ 
  3. https://www.stroke.org.uk/effects-of-stroke/tiredness-and-fatigue 
  4. https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Help-after-stroke/Stroke-resources-and-fact-sheets/Fatigue-after-stroke-fact-sheet 
  5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228112008.htm
  6. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/symptoms
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DispatchHealth Staff The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.