Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue in the Workplace

June 17, 2021

Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue in the Workplace
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People with multiple sclerosis (MS) frequently experience a wide range of challenges, but for others, the most challenging environment of all is work. Many individuals with MS ultimately find it almost impossible to continue to work due to symptoms such as fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and reduced mobility. Even persons who do not have obvious MS symptoms may be concerned about what will happen if their condition worsens.

It is natural for people to become exhausted, particularly after engaging in rigorous activities. Yet, not everyone experiences exhaustion in the same way. MS Fatigue is distinct from ordinary exhaustion. Muscular weariness and severe exhaustion are additional symptoms of this illness. This can have a substantial impact on a person's everyday routine and job effectiveness.

What is multiple sclerosis fatigue?

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, fatigue is one of the most frequent symptoms of MS, affecting around 80% of individuals. It can seriously impair a person's ability to cope at home and at work, as it's one of the leading causes of early retirement. In a person with activity limitations, fatigue could be the most apparent symptom. It is critical to verify that your weariness is due to MS, not anything else that requires a different remedy. 

There is a different type of exhaustion that only patients with MS experience, known as lassitude. Lassitude, often known as "MS fatigue," differs from other types of exhaustion in that it:

  • It is something that happens daily.
  • Even after a restful night's sleep, this condition may arise early in the morning and tends to increase as the day unfolds.
  • Heat and humidity seem to worsen it.
  • It comes on quickly and unexpectedly.
  • It is likely to be more severe than regular weariness.
  • Is more prone to obstruct everyday responsibilities.

According to Healthline.com, with MS fatigue, the brain can become foggy, and the patient may have difficulties focusing. MS tiredness can also impair a patient's vision, and in some circumstances, it can cause slurred speech.

MS fatigue and work

The good thing is that people with MS are generally entitled to request adjustments at their workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which can alleviate some of their specific burdens. These modifications can range from physical alterations in your workstation to scheduling adjustments or even changed tasks. Everydayhealth.com listed the following improvements that have allowed people with MS to continue to thrive at work:

assignments

Channing Barker, a 27-year-old Northwest Arkansas native with MS for 11 years, works as a senior reporter at a local television station. Because of the public nature of her employment, she believes she must be upfront with her bosses and coworkers about her MS and the issues it entails. While most reporters are in charge of parts in which they write, shoot, and edit their own material, Barker delegated these tasks to a photographer. She made it clear when she took the job that [carrying equipment] could trigger a flare-up.

She also expressed concern that the accommodation "could be regarded as a weakness" and impede her growth as a reporter because she is embarrassed that she cannot handle that part of the job while her peers are out in the field every day hauling their jobs own equipment. Fortunately, none of her coworkers have shown any displeasure.

mobility aids

In Seattle, Vito Seripiero, 58, had MS for 18 years and works as an aircraft engineer. His employment is extensive, and he frequently needs to move from one location of the facility to another. Seripiero remembers contacting HR and being in touch with a business disability management person when his movements became constrained. This rep secured for him to have a company-issued motorized scooter and a handicapped parking place at work.

Seripiero stated that he has moved several times in the last 18 years, and his scooter and parking assignments have followed him. He also said that his requests for accommodations “were received and acted on with no issue” and that the changes actually made it possible for him to do his job effectively.

schedules

Meg Lewellyn, 46, a Seattle resident with MS for nearly ten years, works for a local internet company. When the business was purchased by a foreign company, all American workers were laid off – else, she claims, she would still be working there. Lewellyn says she was lucky enough to work from home for her first two years with her old job. She wasn't at the office for the weekly staff meeting and a few meetings with her teammates. But when she had to work in the office full-time, Lewellyn discovered that her boss wasn't too strict about her schedule. If she was hit by a flare, she could work from home or take time off.

workspaces

Cheryl Hile, 42, of San Diego, had MS for ten years and works as a contracts and grants administrator at the University of California, San Diego. While she is lucky to have an employer that allows her to work from home and take time off for appointments, she has also sought a modification in her office space. So, last year, she asked for a desk that could be adjusted from a sitting to a standing position. Her supervisor, she claimed, didn't hesitate and even agreed to purchase a more expensive motorized type so she wouldn't have to raise and lower the desktop herself, which would have been difficult for her.

She claims that being able to work sitting or standing has considerably aided her productivity. She is more efficient during the day since she isn't focusing as much on her pain, which is neuropathic and often worsens when she sits or has poor posture. However, this perk comes at a small cost: the envy of her coworkers. Everyone desired a stand-up desk!

PROPER ERGONOMICS

Some people aren't too concerned with how activities should be carried out correctly. They can be careless with their bodies as they go about their regular lives. As a result, the outcome can be discouraging. Proper body mechanics will ensure that your health is not jeopardized. When sitting, use a comfy chair. It would be preferable if you could utilize an ergonomic chair with adequate lumbar support.

Ergonomics are critical components of every effective workplace. This is more than simply configuring your equipment and devices to allow you to work effectively and productively. It is also crucial to find and utilize high-quality materials and equipment to complete your tasks. A standing desk, for example, can help you work with appropriate posture, minimizing hazards such as neck pain, backaches, and leg exhaustion. It is also recommended to use an anti-fatigue mat.

Other ergonomic items can assist in lessening minimizing the likelihood and severity of weariness while working. Ergonomic mouse and keyboard, desk convertersLED desk lamps, and monitor mounts are examples of such items.

Relieve MS symptoms

While your doctor can give you the best multiple sclerosis treatment options, making lifestyle modifications such as nutrition and exercise can be very beneficial to your health and help ease MS symptoms:

  • Massage: Regular massage will assist in improving lymphatic flow and circulation, promote joint flexibility, and even aid with muscle spasms.
  • Vegetables: Specifically, the green kind. Vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cucumbers, and spinach are high in phytonutrients, which can help MS patients' health.
  • Salmon: Organic, a wild sockeye salmon, is full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. One serving per week is adequate to improve MS health by supplying good fats that reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamin D: According to studies, clusters of MS patients worldwide do not get enough sunlight and thus do not get enough vitamin D. You can counteract this by having a vitamin D check, taking a vitamin D3 supplement which also contains vitamin K2, and obtaining 20 minutes of sunlight on as much skin as possible each day.
  • ExerciseModerate exercise can help you gain strength, improve your bowel and bladder control, and increase your flexibility. It also aids in maintaining a healthy weight for those with MS. Exercise can also help treat MS symptoms such as pain and fatigue. Aerobic exercise can be pretty beneficial for people with MS. Try High-Intensity Interval Training, which involves working out as hard as you can for 4 or 5 minutes, taking a short break, and then repeating. Strength training can aid with muscle development and strengthening, as well as fatigue management. It can help improve the connection between brain regions in individuals with MS, protecting them against exhaustion and eventual cognitive impairment. Endurance training strengthens your cardiovascular system and makes your muscles more robust. Endurance training includes activities such as walking, cycling, and swimming. Do you feel as if you don't have enough time in the day to exercise? Using a sit-stand desk at work can help you get some exercise. A height-adjustable standing desk will keep you active throughout the day.

Conclusion

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has had a significant impact on how many people worldwide go about their daily lives. As a result, reducing the hazards of MS fatigue is critical. Employees and employers must develop a solid program or raise knowledge in the workplace on how to prevent and manage this condition. Applying the measures mentioned above can help reduce the symptoms of MS fatigue, allowing you to perform better at work or at home.

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