Lupus Site - a guide for lupus patients and their families





What is fatigue?

Fatigue is the feeling of extreme tiredness or exhaustion, often involving muscle weakness, that can result in difficulty performing tasks.

How does fatigue make you feel?

It affects everyone differently. For example, it can make you feel very tired, with no energy. All you want to do is sleep, & everyday tasks become too much. Fatigue may be accompanied by pain, irritability, or a loss of concentration.

What causes fatigue in lupus?

No one knows, yet it is one of the most common symptoms of lupus. Some scientists believe that fatigue is the body's response to cytokines that are produced in many cells of the body, but it's not known why the body responds in this way or what the cytokines do to cause the body to respond by being fatigued. Fatigue can be due to lupus symptoms & the effects of lupus on the body. Things such as depression, & overdoing things can exacerbate the fatigue a lupus patient already suffers from.

Does the fatigue ever go away?

Even when the lupus is treated, & your antibodies are normal, & your disease is in remission, the fatigue can persist.

Are there any medical treatments for fatigue?

Currently, there are no specific medical treatments that can improve fatigue. However, there are several drugs in development that appear to have some success in helping with fatigue. These drugs include male hormones, which probably work by inhibiting certain cytokines, & therefore, reduce the fatigue. Some lupus patients find that corticosteroids help. However, it is unlikely that an overall effective treatment will be found until the cause of the disease is better understood.

How can I deal with fatigue?

Try to analyze what causes your fatigue to worsen, e.g. depression; pain; anaemia; muscle weakness; emotional stress; not eating properly; not enough sleep; overdoing things. Are there any of these things that you can change? For example, if overdoing things worsens your fatigue, then try slowing down & not doing so much at once. Pace yourself. Do a heavy task, then a light task, etc. Delegate - let somebody else do certain tasks, & don't be afraid to ask for help.. Learn your body's signs of getting tired. Take breaks during or between tasks, before you get too tired. When your lupus is more active, take longer & more frequent rests.




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