Unexpected Drug Helps Improve MS Fatigue

Improving MS Fatigue

A Diet Pill Improved My Fatigue

I saw a question the other day on one of the social media sites asking, which MS symptom do you experience that you wish that researchers can find help for? It didn’t take me but half of a second to know exactly how I would answer it; and without a doubt it would be fatigue. Even with the pain, muscle spasms, and host of other issues I experience, it seems like the fatigue is the worst. It can be overwhelming and downright debilitating.  It is the kind of fatigue that is extremely hard to explain to anyone and sleep nor do rest periods seem to help.

I have tried on many occasions to explain or compare this type of fatigue and the only thing I can come close to is by associating it with the fatigue seen with the flu then multiply it by many numbers. When I have severe fatigue usually seen with a relapse, just getting up from the bed or couch to go to the bathroom can cause increased heart rate and respirations. It takes all the energy I have to complete that task. On normal days, meaning non-relapsing days, my body is usually ready to stop by late afternoon. I wake up tired, but by mid-morning I can usually get my housework done, complete our main meal of the day, and get an aquatic cardio exercise in. It has been a long time since the 10 pm news has been watched by me.

Having said this, I will admit that since starting my daily (5x a week) aquatic exercises, the fatigue has improved a great deal. The warm water along with increasing my cardiac output with exercise has strengthen my muscles and provided stamina for a longer day. Then by accident, I found a medication which has provided much relief from fatigue and extended my day; so much so I am awake even after the evening news.  About 3 months ago, my annual visit to my primary care doctor made me request a diet pill so I could take off about 15 pounds that I had put on over the last couple of years. Even though with daily exercise and eating a healthy 1300 calorie meal, the weight just would not come off. I guess my metabolism has slowed tremendously with my increasing age.  He wrote a prescription for Phentermine and explained that it could make me nervous and keep me awake at night.

Started this medication the next day and the only side effect I experienced for the first 3-4 days was nausea. This is a normal side effect for me when starting any new medication, but subsides quickly. I didn’t have any nervousness and my sleep at night was great. I took it for 2 months and lost the weight I wanted. The most interesting fact though I found when I stopped taking it, was that the fatigue started up again. I had felt so good while on the medication that I never noticed how it erased a huge portion of my fatigue. For 2 months my days started early and ended with me going to bed between 11-11:30 at night.  My days were full of activity, and I FELT GOOD!  All of the sudden the fatigue was back and it got me to thinking what changed for this to happen? A bell went off in my head when I figured out that this weight loss medication was responsible for the improvement. With this realization, I decided to speak with my MS Specialist and see what he had to say. To my amazement, I was told that Phentermine is prescribed a lot to MS patients for the treatment of fatigue. There are other medications which are also used, but a couple I had been on the past didn’t work for me. Needless to say, I requested an ongoing script which now is the one drug I look forward to taking. It comes in 2 doses, a 30 mg which is a capsule and a 37.5 mg which comes in a “scored” tablet which can be broke in to two doses. You will need to experiment to see which amount works best for you.

I am always surprised when I accidently run across something unexpected that helps improve any symptoms. If this helped me like it has, hopefully it will help you as well. Don’t just accept fatigue as the normal way of life when there are drugs out there that can improve this symptom. It is without a doubt a life changing medication.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.