Resource type: Article

General weakness

Is it normal to feel so weak?

Yes. It is very common to feel weak and washed out in the first few weeks and months after getting home, even if you were previously fit and well. From what other people have told us, it seems that the legs are most severely affected by weakness, but you may also notice weakness in your arms, hands and shoulders.

Going home usually means that you will be starting to do more for yourself than you did in hospital, and this may leave you feeling tired and weak. Try not to worry, as this is a normal part of the recovery process and will slowly improve.

Why do I feel so tired and weak?

Patients can lose up to 2% of their muscle for each day that they spend in Intensive Care, which can take some time to recover. It may also be that your appetite is not quite back to normal, that you are having problems sleeping or are feeling a little low. All of these things can add to your sense of feeling weak.

Even though some people feel that they want to leave behind their time in Intensive Care and hospital and focus completely on their recovery,  it is important to remember that you are still recovering from a serious illness, accident or operation.

How long will it take to get my strength back?

Everyone is different. Some people seem to recover very quickly while for others, it can take quite some time. How long it takes can depend on many things, such as your health and fitness before you ended up in Intensive Care, how long you were in Intensive Care, the type and intensity of physiotherapy or rehabilitation you received and how well you are able to manage your own recovery eg pacing yourself and balancing rest with increasing activity.

What can I do to help myself?

We've provided some information and advice in the sections entitled "Managing your own recovery".