Your life


MS fatigue feels like being stuck in a bubble with really
thick air around you that constantly pushes you down.

Annika, age 25
Diagnosed with MS 2 years ago

MS Overview

MS affects your central nervous system

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which your own immune cells attack your central nervous system (CNS). The CNS includes your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Normally, immune cells patrol for signs of infectious substances (such as viruses and bacteria). When they find one, they attack it. Generally, B cells make antibodies that help the immune system recognize the infectious substance, and T cells attack the infectious substance and help control the immune response.

The CNS communicates by sending signals through the nerve cells, also called neurons. These neurons help you process and respond to the world around you.

Learn more

Consider the below for an example of how
MS can impact communication in the CNS

Neural networks are like well-maintained highways throughout the brain.

With MS, these highways become damaged and over time may become disconnected. This can cause signals to move more slowly and less efficiently within neural networks.

The brain can build new connections to try and repair damage. Its ability to build these new connections decreases over time, though.

As the brain tries to build so many new connections, it can become less efficient. Think of it like taking a detour or a dirt road — you may still get to your destination, but it usually takes longer.

MS can take time to diagnose and
there are several different subtypes

  • Diagnosed MS can take a few forms. These include relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS) with or without relapses, and primary progressive MS (PPMS).

    RRMS affects most people with MS (85%) and is characterized by recurring “relapses” followed by a period of recovery or remission. Relapses are episodes of new symptoms or worsening of old symptoms that may occur at the same time as MS lesions in the CNS.

    Relapses can vary in intensity from mild to severe, and the symptoms they cause can vary from person to person. After a relapse, the symptoms it brought on can disappear completely, but sometimes they don’t. If symptoms continue after a relapse, it can lead to further disability.

    About 80% of people diagnosed with RRMS will eventually progress to SPMS. In this type of MS, neurologic function can get worse over time with or without relapses.

    PPMS is a type of MS in which neurologic function immediately starts to get worse from the beginning of experiencing symptoms. This type of MS affects approximately 15% of newly diagnosed individuals.

The changes MS causes can lead to a variety of symptoms

MS symptoms can be unpredictable, which may make it difficult for you and your
doctor to manage them. Some of the most common symptoms of MS include:
    • Fatigue
    • Numbness/
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness and vertigo
    • Sexual problems
    • Emotional changes
    • Difficulty walking/gait issues
    • Vision problems
    • Bladder and/or bowel problems
    • Difficulty thinking

    Fatigue: Tiredness or lack of energy that can affect your ability to function at home or work.

    Numbness/tingling: A numb feeling in your face, body, or extremities (arms and legs).

    Weakness: Unused muscles or nerve damage can make you feel weaker than usual.

    Dizziness and vertigo: Dizziness can feel like you are off-balance or lightheaded. Vertigo can make it feel like your surroundings are spinning.

    Sexual problems: The body’s sexual response can be affected by damage in MS.

    Emotional changes: The effects of MS, or the stress of living with it, can lead to emotional changes like depression, mood swings, or irritability.

    Difficulty walking/gait issues: Muscle tightness, numbness, weakness, and balance problems, among other things, may make it harder to walk straight and keep your balance.

    Vision problems: Blurred vision or visual disturbances are often one of the first signs of MS a person experiences.

    Bladder and/or bowel problems: Bladder dysfunction and symptoms like constipation often accompany MS but can usually be managed with diet, fluids, and exercise.

    Difficulty thinking: How you learn and process new information or keep your focus can be affected by MS.

Of these common MS symptoms, fatigue is one of the most common.
About 81% of people living with MS will experience fatigue in their first
year after diagnosis. So if it’s happening to you, you’re not alone!

MS Fatigue Overview

What is MS fatigue and why does it occur?

MS fatigue is unique to people living with MS and different than other types of fatigue. If you experience MS fatigue, it doesn’t mean you aren’t trying hard enough to push through it.

Compared with normal fatigue, MS fatigue can:
  • Occur on a daily basis
  • Come on suddenly and be more severe
  • Be made worse by heat and humidity
  • Interfere with your physical function
  • Interfere with your cognitive function

There are a number of factors that are thought to contribute to your experience of MS fatigue.

MS fatigue is common and can occur
at all stages of the disease

About 81% of people with MS have some fatigue
within the first year of diagnosis.

MS fatigue can be difficult to manage

You may feel MS fatigue from the start of the disease. In some patients, fatigue may worsen over time despite treatment with an MS medicine.

MS Fatigue and You

How MS fatigue can affect you

You can experience MS fatigue in a variety of ways, including:

Physical difficulties

Difficulties thinking
or concentrating

day-to-day tasks


Anxiety or

Difficulty participating
in relationships and social life

See how MS fatigue affects real people with MS

Quotes were collected
from real MS patients.


MS fatigue real talk

MS fatigue has been called a “hidden” symptom of MS. Considering how
it may affect you is the first step to helping you talk about it with your
family, friends, and treatment team.

How do you experience MS fatigue?

Take this short survey and have your answers emailed to you afterward so you’re ready to talk about MS fatigue at your next doctor visit.

How do others
explain their fatigue?
  • “I feel like I’m wearing or lifting heavy weights”

  • “It feels like I’m walking through pea soup”

  • “It’s like being
    ‘fall-down’ tired”

  • “It feels like I’m coming down with the flu”

  • “It’s like feeling that you haven’t slept”

Quotes were collected
from real MS patients.

Help your treatment team, family, and friends understand and support you by clearly
describing how MS fatigue affects you and what you’re doing to try and manage it.

Remember, you're not alone!

MS fatigue affects many people living with MS. There are several different ways
you may be able to think and do something about it.

  • MS fatigue is a part of living with MS for many patients that you and your doctor can talk about and try to manage.

    YOU CAN:

    • Talk about what activities have become harder to do with MS fatigue. Examples could be cooking, visiting friends, or housework.
    • Write down questions or concerns you might have about MS fatigue to take to your next doctor visit.
    • Check out resources for people living with MS. Some are even listed at the bottom of this website!
    • Tell others about your MS fatigue if it feels right to do so.


    • Provide prescription medicines to help manage the different symptoms of your MS fatigue.
    • Recommend potential alternative therapies that can include meditation, breathing techniques, acupuncture, cryostimulation, or noninvasive brain stimulation.
    • Suggest things like eating well or exercising to keep yourself active.
    The above suggestions are not a substitute for medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your MS and your MS fatigue.

Talk openly with your doctor about your short-term and long-term goals and the symptoms that are important to you.

Support and resources

Get more information on MS fatigue

Download a patient brochure,
print the MS fatigue survey, and
check out some other helpful sites for people living with MS.

MS fatigue patient brochure

Learn more about MS fatigue and how you can talk to your doctor about it.


MS fatigue survey

Print a blank survey to fill out and take to your next appointment with your doctor.


  • MS fatigue survey

    Print a blank survey to fill out and take to your next appointment with your doctor.


  • MS fatigue patient brochure

    Learn more about MS fatigue and how you can talk to your doctor about it.


Additional resources

Sign up for more information

To receive updates about MS fatigue, please sign
up by entering your information below.

The information you provide will only be used by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., our affiliates, and our service providers to provide you information via email and mail about multiple sclerosis, including Janssen products, services, and programs relating to multiple sclerosis, and any optional requests indicated below. You may ask to stop receiving these communications by selecting UNSUBSCRIBE in the emails you receive. Our Privacy Policy further governs the use of the information you provide. By providing your information and selecting the SUBMIT button, you indicate that you read, understand, and agree to these terms.

*Indicates required field.

If you are a US healthcare professional,
please click the following button:


If you are a person living with MS or a care partner,
please click the following button:

Myelin is a substance that forms a protective layer over neurons in the CNS. This helps neurons send signals rapidly.

In MS, for unknown reasons, immune cells attack myelin, damaging or destroying it and causing inflammation.

When myelin is damaged or destroyed, it becomes harder for neurons to communicate with each other quickly and effectively. The neurons themselves can also be damaged in MS.

Areas where inflammation has damaged or destroyed myelin are called lesions. Your doctor can often see these lesions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The following survey is for you to examine your own experience with MS fatigue so that you can better discuss it with your doctor. This survey is not intended to be a diagnostic tool. The questions included here are just a few examples of how fatigue may affect a person living with MS.

The information entered into the survey will not be collected by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. If, at the completion of the survey, you choose to have your answers emailed to you, the answers will display within a new email in your own email client (e.g., Outlook, Gmail, etc.). You can then choose to send the email to any email address. Please note that email is not a secure method of communication and is not encrypted, and that the information included within this email could be at risk of being intercepted while in transit, as with any information communicated through email that is not protected through encryption.

Start the survey

Question 1 of 7

Do you often wonder if your fatigue
is from MS or just part of everyday life?

Question 2 of 7

Do you make daily life adjustments, like choosing where to go or what to do, because of your MS fatigue?

Question 3 of 7

Does your fatigue
ever affect others?

Question 4 of 7

Does your fatigue ever make
you miss social events?

Question 5 of 7

Does your fatigue prevent you from
being able to work?

Question 6 of 7

Does your fatigue ever affect your ability
to do everyday tasks?

Question 7 of 7

Do you ever feel like you are unable to do
the things you want or need to?
See your answers

If you are a US healthcare professional,
please click the following button:


If you are a person living with MS or a care partner,
please click the following button:

Thank you
for signing up!