Through our Salus Programme we help people who are affected by other fatigue related conditions. We know that recovery from brain tumours, cancer, sepsis, meningitis and septicemia can leave people experiencing severe fatigue that differs from ‘normal’ fatigue in that it isn’t relieved by resting or sleep.
Not everyone will experience fatigue from these conditions, which can vary from mild, with limited impact, to very disruptive to their everyday lives. However, in common with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome it can:
- Vary from person to person, and in intensity from day to day
- Adversely affect sleeping patterns
- Negatively affect emotions causing stress and consequently increasing fatigue
- Cannot be seen – making it difficult for others to understand how it feels or how bad it is
Common symptoms of fatigue:
Lack of energy and sleeping difficulties
Malaise following even small physical or mental activities (e.g. making a drink, reading)
Aching muscles (e.g. when climbing stairs)
Brain fog – difficulty concentrating
Features of depression and anxiety
The exact cause of tumour-related fatigue isn’t known but the Brain Tumour Charity explain that several things could contribute:
- The tumour itself: your body uses up its energy to fight the tumour
- Treatment: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, medication, can all increase the risk of fatigue
- Stress, anxiety, depression
Meningitis and Septicemia
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges. Meningitis can be caused by viral, bacterial and fungal infections, as well as by reactions to certain drugs and by chemical irritation of the membranes.
The inflammation can cause damage to the brain and spinal cord if it is not treated appropriately. In cases of bacterial meningitis, if the bacterial infection also enters the bloodstream then a person can develop septicemia (blood poisoning). Meningitis and septicemia together are sometimes referred to as meningococcal disease.
The Meningitis Research Foundation explain that these conditions can cause a range of health problems that can be physical or emotional.
Sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) is the immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury. Septicemia and Sepsis aren’t the same. Sepsis is a serious complication of Septicemia, which is the infection itself. Normally our immune system fights infection – but sometimes, for reasons we don’t yet understand, it attacks our body’s own organs and tissues. If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death. Yet with early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics. (The Sepsis UK Trust)
There are around 123,000 cases of Sepsis a year in the UK and some people make a full recovery fairly quickly. The amount of time it takes to fully recover from sepsis varies, depending on:
- the severity of the sepsis
- the person’s overall health
- how much time was spent in hospital
- whether treatment was needed in an ICU
Some people experience long-term physical and/or psychological problems during their recovery period, such as:
- feeling lethargic or excessively tired
- muscle weakness
- swollen limbs or joint pain
- chest pain or breathlessness
These long-term problems are known as post-sepsis syndrome.