Fatigue is an almost universal problem for lupus patients and one of the most common symptoms of lupus. Many research studies show that a whopping 90 percent of people with lupus experience some level of fatigue, which can totally disrupt their lives.
An afternoon nap does the trick for some people, but sleeping too much during the day can lead to insomnia at night. It may be hard to do, but if you can remain active and stick to a daily routine, you may be able to keep your energy levels up.
Many different factors are responsible for the severe tiredness many patients experience and this makes it difficult to give advice on how to combat this debilitating complication of lupus. Fatigue can be influenced by anaemia, depression, pain, quality and/or quantity of sleep, severity of illness, as well as flares, medications and stress, so other possible causes should also be ruled out.
Although exercise may be the last thing you want to do if you’re feeling tired, it can actually boost your energy levels. Research from the lupus unit has clearly shown that regular gentle exercise is beneficial in combating fatigue. Our results also show that gentle/low impact exercise will not damage your joints or cause your lupus to flare. Click here to see our article on exercise.
Another recent piece of research from the our lupus researchers has shown that keeping your weight down significantly improves fatigue. There are no specific dietary recommendations but our research has shown the low glycaemic index (Low GI) diet to be very beneficial to lupus patients. Click here to see our article on weight loss.
Clearly other measures such as giving up smoking will also help your ability to exercise. It is also likely that small amounts of alcohol especially red wine may be beneficial in the long term.
Explaining 'lupus fatigue' to friends or colleagues is difficult and often frustrating. It's not something you can see, so patients can be, wrongly, perceived as lazy. Taking time to explain this to others will be beneficial as it will help them to understand that you may look extremely well on the outside but that's no reflection of how you feel inside. Click here for the 'spoon theory', an excellent explanation of lupus fatigue.