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Cancer: Home Treatment for Fatigue

Getting Started

Fatigue, or feeling very tired, is a common side effect of cancer treatment. See if any of these ideas are helpful.

  • Check to see if your pain is under control.

    Pain that isn't managed can make fatigue worse.

  • Get extra rest during treatment.

    Fatigue is often worse at the end of treatment or just after treatment is finished.

  • Manage your energy.
    • Notice what time of day you have the most energy. Fatigue usually has a pattern.
    • Set priorities. Make a list of the most important things you need to do. Keep a list of the things that are less important for when you have help.
    • Pace yourself. Plan important activities for times when you have the most energy.
    • Use labor-saving devices. This may mean using a bedside commode or a walker.
  • Switch between rest and physical activity.

    Walking and swimming are good activities to reduce fatigue. Slowly getting more activity may help.

    Check with your doctor before you exercise. Exercise may not be good for some people with cancer, such as those who have a fever or anemia.

  • Plan quiet activities before going to bed, such as:
    • Reading, journaling, or listening to quiet music.
    • Meditation, yoga, or relaxation exercises (like deep breathing).
  • Eat healthy foods.
    • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may increase your energy. Try nourishing soups, which are easy to digest.
    • Don't skip meals, especially breakfast.
    • Be sure to drink enough fluids.
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol. They can make you feel more tired. And don't smoke.
  • Take care of your emotional health.

    Fatigue is often the hardest part of treatment. It may affect your sense of well-being and your mood.

    • Be sure to tell your doctor if you feel anxious or depressed. Your doctor or a counselor may be able to help.
    • Make time for things that you enjoy, such as listening to music, being with friends, or having a massage.
    • Talk with other people who've had cancer. Your local American Cancer Society chapter can help you find a support group.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have new symptoms such as fever or a rash.
  • Your fatigue gets worse.
  • You have been feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. Or you may have lost interest in things that you usually enjoy.
  • You are not getting better as expected.

Related Information


Current as of: October 25, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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