Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Take fatigue seriously

02.02.2007
Instead of dismissing grumblings about being tired or exhausted, people should take these complaints seriously before they lead to a worsened health state or even death, says a University of Alberta researcher investigating fatigue.

Dr. Karin Olson, a U of A professor from the Faculty of Nursing, argues that there are differences between tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion and that recognizing those distinctions will help health-care workers create better treatment plans for their patients. Her findings are published in the current issue of "Oncology Nursing Forum."

Olson has studied fatigue in six ill and non-ill populations: shift workers, recreational long distance runners, individuals with cancer in active treatment or palliative settings, and individuals diagnosed with depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. Having worked with cancer patients for many years, she saw how serious fatigue was and the impact it had on the patients' quality of life. Some patients even withdrew for a potentially curative treatment saying they were "too tired."

"The kind of fatigue experienced by individuals with cancer is different from the feeling that you or I have at the end of a busy week," said Olson. "Interestingly, when you start looking at other populations, such as people with chronic illnesses or shift workers and take a broad view, the descriptions of fatigue are the same. Thus, while the reasons for fatigue may vary, the kinds of adaptations required may not."

Olson, who is currently an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) Health Scholar, has created new definitions for tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion and argues that they represent various points on an energy continuum. The amount of energy a person has influences how easily he can adapt to stress that comes his way. Individuals who are tired still have a fair bit of energy, so although they may feel forgetful, and impatient, and experience gradual heaviness or weakness in muscles following work, this is often alleviated by rest. Fatigue, on the other hand, is characterized by difficulty concentrating, anxiety, a gradual decrease in stamina, difficulty sleeping, increased sensitivity to light and the limiting of social activities once viewed as important. Individuals with exhaustion report frank confusion that resembles delirium, emotional numbness, sudden loss of energy, difficulty both in staying awake and in sleeping and complete social withdrawal.

"It is important to recognize the difference between tiredness and fatigue, because fatigue is a marker that the body is not able to keep up," says Olson. "The onset of the manifestations of fatigue, particularly if these are not normal states for you, should be taken seriously."

Failing to understand the distinctions between tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion could result in the use of inappropriate interventions that inadvertently promote fatigue and exhaustion. Olson has some evidence that while exercise appears to help those who are tired, it may decrease the ability to adapt in individuals experiencing fatigue and exhaustion. Long-term use of caffeine and other stimulants should also be avoided by people experiencing fatigue and exhaustion, as these substances "fool" the body into thinking it has more energy available than it really does.

"The important thing is to try to prevent or at least delay the progression from tiredness to fatigue and then from fatigue to exhaustion," said Olson. "We are starting to work on some interventions that we think may be helpful. In the meantime, families and friends can help by recognizing changes consistent with fatigue and exhaustion and look for ways to help minimize stress."

This work may also have applications to other population, such as students or individuals with chronic illnesses, who have not been studied to date. "Students tend to stay up late at night, studying hard," said Olson. "Some studies show that changes in sleep patterns are may compromise one's ability to remember things and to integrate new information.

"We're a long way from having all the answers but this study was a start. It has provided us with a great foundation for future research among individuals with cancer and other groups ranging from ‘burned out' workers to recreational athletes and people with chronic diseases."

Phoebe Dey | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Why might reading make myopic?
18.07.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

nachricht Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>