Almost 90% of lupus patients experience fatigue, making it one of the most common symptoms. Fatigue can vary from severe, to fleeting or persistent and can form a vicious circle. It is unclear why extreme fatigue occurs in so many people with lupus.
Poor coping strategies, feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety, smoking and lack of exercise can all be related to lupus fatigue. Before your fatigue is related to these factors, any treatable causes such as anaemia, kidney failure or hypothyroidism must first be ruled out.
By making some adjustments, people with lupus-related fatigue can often learn how to avoid pushing themselves to exhaustion.
Take a look at our strategies for managing lupus fatigue:
1. Be open about your fatigue and how it affects you. It is important that you tell your Consultant and those around you that you are suffering from fatigue. Do not be afraid to ask for help and fatigue resources.
2. Listen to your body and understand your limits. Aerobic exercise is an effective non-drug treatment for lupus fatigue. This does not mean you should do high-intensity exercise, just try to do some kind of movement or strength-building activity every day.
3. Plan ahead and prioritise your activities. When planning your day try to include:
Time to rest between tasks or activities, it may help to write a to-do list and prioritise your tasks so you get the most important things done first.
Plan your meals in advance, bulk-cooking and freezing meals may help to reduce your time in the kitchen on a daily basis.
4. Accept fatigue as a symptom of having lupus. As part of this acceptance it is important to acknowledge that taking time to rest is part of your treatment for lupus. Make sure that your family, friends and colleagues understand why rest is an integral part of your treatment and accept any help that they offer!
5. Make adjustments in your life that will help you live better. Consider your lifestyle and the positive changes you can make that may help your fatigue. Establish good sleep patterns and a healthy diet. If you smoke, join a support group to cut down and stop. Smoking reduces your available energy by restricting blood flow to your heart and lungs, which increases your level of fatigue.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.