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Can Lupus Cause Fatigue?

Updated: Apr 18


Living with a chronic illness like lupus can be challenging, as it can present a wide range of symptoms that vary in intensity from person to person. One common complaint among individuals with lupus is fatigue, which can significantly impact their quality of life.

I certainly felt the fatigue in the early days of my diagnosis. I could barely function!



exhausted person laying face down on a bed with clothes on


Understanding Lupus: Lupus, formally known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in various parts of the body. It is a complex condition with diverse symptoms, including joint pain, skin rashes, kidney problems, and fatigue. Lupus can affect nearly every part of the body!

The exact cause of lupus remains unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.


Fatigue in Lupus: Fatigue is a persistent and overwhelming feeling of tiredness that is not relieved by rest or sleep. It is a prevalent symptom among individuals with lupus, affecting up to 80% of patients.

It's very different than the tiredness from a poor night's sleep, it's as if you can barely lift your arms and legs because they feel so heavy!


Fatigue in lupus can be debilitating, leading to difficulties in performing daily activities and a decreased overall quality of life.


Scientific Evidence and Studies:

  1. A study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research examined the prevalence and impact of fatigue in individuals with lupus. The researchers found that fatigue was a significant concern among lupus patients, with over 50% reporting severe fatigue. They concluded that fatigue should be considered an important aspect of lupus management (Katz P. et al., 2006).

  2. Another study published in the journal Lupus investigated the relationship between fatigue and disease activity in lupus patients. The researchers found a strong association between fatigue and disease activity, suggesting that increased disease activity may contribute to the severity of fatigue symptoms (Tench C. et al., 2000).

  3. In a systematic review published in Autoimmunity Reviews, researchers analyzed various factors contributing to fatigue in lupus patients. They identified several potential causes, including inflammation, pain, sleep disturbances, depression, and medication side effects. The review emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to manage fatigue in lupus patients (Andreoli L. et al., 2017).

How to manage it?

Managing fatigue in lupus can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help improve overall well-being:

  1. Rest and Pace Activities: Balancing rest and activity is crucial. Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Pacing activities throughout the day can help conserve energy. Also, try not to schedule all your errands for one day!

  2. Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking or swimming, can help reduce fatigue and improve overall fitness. Start slow!

  3. Stress Management: Stress can worsen fatigue in lupus. Incorporating stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies can be beneficial.

  4. Sleep Hygiene: Prioritize good sleep hygiene by establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment.

  5. Medication Management: Work closely with your healthcare team to manage lupus symptoms and minimize medication side effects that may contribute to fatigue.

Fatigue is a common and distressing symptom experienced by individuals with lupus.

By implementing these strategies, you can optimize their energy levels and improve their overall quality of life.


If you're struggling with Lupus fatigue and ready to make the diet and lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in your life - check out my free mini-course today!


References:

  1. Katz P, et al. (2006). The prevalence and clinical impact of reported cognitive difficulties (fibrofog) in patients with rheumatic disease with and without fibromyalgia. Arthritis Care & Research, 55(5), 780-785.

  2. Tench C, et al. (2000). Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus: a randomized controlled trial of exercise. Lupus, 9(4), 289-297.

  3. Andreoli L, et al. (2017). Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus: Epidemiology, pathophysiology and management. Autoimmunity Reviews, 16(8), 756-764.

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