The condition of fatigue is one in which a person experiences physical and mental weakness that result from a variety of causes. One cannot pinpoint or precisely define the condition of fatigue as it involves the patient experiencing many different conditions ranging from lethargy to a feeling of burning in muscles. The intensity or degree of fatigue can vary from just a lethargic feeling to a condition in which a burning sensation is experienced in the muscles. Fatigue cannot be grouped into one of the medical signs; however, the condition of fatigue itself can be classified into physical and mental fatigue (somnolence). The inability to work with muscles at the normal level of their ability is termed as physical fatigue. Mental fatigue is not necessarily associated with the normal functioning of muscles. Decreased wakefulness is the main characteristic of mental fatigue. It is a symptom that a patient reports to his/her physician. Chronic fatigue is a condition lasting for minimum 6 months; prolonged fatigue on the other hand affects the patient for a duration of minimum 1 month.
What is Fatigue Severity Scale?
It is a scale used in the evaluation of fatigue that affects our body. A list of statements/questions is provided. These statements are related to the different aspects of fatigue and how it affects the body. One has to just rate the question/statements and not answer them. The rating given to these questions is used in determining the state of a person's health. While rating the questions, one should make use of the scale with numbers from 1 to 7. If a person strongly agrees with a particular statement, the rating of 7 should be given. Strong disagreement is expressed by rating the question as 1. Depending on one's own experiences, ratings between 1 and 7 can be given. One cannot skip a particular question; it is mandatory to answer all questions in order to obtain a better understanding of fatigue. The sum total of ratings given to all questions is used to determine the degree or severity of fatigue that a person is suffering from.
The total score of 36 or above calculated using the scale indicates that a person is suffering from fatigue-related health problem. A score that is lower than 36 shows that the health is normal. Even if the FSS gives us a rough idea of the possible health problems resulting from fatigue, you cannot (and should not) make diagnosis on your own. There are many details and underlying causes behind a person exhibiting a particular or set of symptoms. Only a physician has the expertise to decode the results obtained from such tests and get to the root-cause of the problem. A list of statements used for evaluating the health are presented below.
- I am easily fatigued.
- Exercise brings on my fatigue.
- My motivation is lower when I am fatigued.
- Fatigue causes frequent problems for me.
- Fatigue interferes with my physical functioning.
- Fatigue interferes with carrying out certain duties and responsibilities.
- My fatigue prevents sustained physical functioning.
- Fatigue interferes with my work, family, or social life.
- Fatigue is among my three most disabling symptoms.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the FSS
This scale helps in calculating the score pretty quickly. One can take immediate steps on the basis of this score in dealing with health problems. The scale is extensively used in different parts of the world. It has proved to be of great help in conducting rehabilitation programs. The limitations of using FSS along with its advantages need to be considered. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to differentiate between fatigue and depression. If a person is suffering from pain, the ratings given by patients are influenced. The relationship between fatigue, depression and pain creates a condition which makes it difficult to single out the feeling of 'pure' fatigue and therefore, the ratings are again affected. The questions like Exercise brings on my fatigue are not relevant to certain people. For example, patients of tetraplegia cannot perform any exercise. Therefore, such a question holds no relevance in calculating the severity of fatigue for them.
Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue Severity Scale
The scale presented above is used in determining the condition of a patient in multiple sclerosis. Fatigue is one of the important symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The scale is therefore, useful in calculating the degree to which an individual is suffering from this problem. You can refer to the same set of questions listed above for determining the level of fatigue. Along with multiple sclerosis, the FSS is also used to measure fatigue in conditions like Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)
Facts about fatigue severity scale and different aspects of this topic are described in the article. There also are a few limitations of using this scale. However, it can satisfactorily be used in calculating the effects of fatigue on the body.