Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How To Deal With Crohn’s Fatigue

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Understanding Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Crohn’s Disease Dealing with Fatigue

Fatigue is a non-specific symptom of many diseases and conditions. Feeling tired could be the result of not getting enough sleep, or not getting enough quality sleep. In the U.S., we are constantly shortchanging ourselves on sleep, and most children and adults do not get enough. Fatigue, however, is more than being tired and it can’t necessarily be overcome by getting some sleep. Fatigue is a symptom often associated with inflammatory bowel disease and tends to be one that is brought up frequently as being most problematic in lowering quality of life.

Chronic fatigue can lead to a host of other problems, including poor performance at work and school, drowsy driving, and feelings of depression. Figuring out that fatigue is a problem is not difficult, but determining what is causing it and what to do about it is no easy task. The reasons people with IBD may feel fatigued include medication side effects, sleep disturbances, related conditions such as anemia, and a flare-up.

Treatments For Extreme Tiredness And Lack Of Energy In Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Review question

What are the effects of drug and non-drug treatments on fatigue in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease compared to no treatment, placebo or active comparator ?


IBD is a life-long illness that causes inflammation and ulceration in the gut. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main types of IBD. People living with IBD often experience fatigue, which can be burdensome and negatively impact on their quality of life. Different treatments, such as medications and exercise, may improve fatigue. However, it is unclear what the effects of such treatments on fatigue in IBD are. This review presents the available evidence of the effectiveness of treatments on fatigue in IBD.

Search date

Extensive searches were undertaken from inception up to July 2018. A top-up search was run in October 2019.

Study characteristics

Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Nine different drug trials, four non-drug trials and one multimodular trial were included in the review. Thirty ongoing studies were also identified and five studies are awaiting classification. In only four trials was managing fatigue the aim of the intervention. In the remaining trials the interventions were aimed at managing other symptoms, including fatigue. Data on fatigue were not available for the fourteen trials, therefore, the findings of this review are based on 1344 participants in nine trials. Most studies were small in size and had low or very low quality of evidence.

Dont Ignore Nutritional Deficiencies

Its important to get assessed for nutritional deficiencies and then treat them if they are present, says Dr. Ananthakrishnan. Some of the most common nutritional deficiencies include iron, B12, vitamin D, vitamin K, folic acid, selenium, zinc, vitamin B6, and vitamin B1. There are many nutrient-rich foods that can help alleviate various deficiencies from UC, but flares or other complications may make it difficult to get enough nutrients from food alone. Your medical team may recommend supplementing your diet with vitamins or minerals.

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Dealing With Fatigue In Ibd

Image result for uc awareness

Over three quarters of people who suffer from IBD also suffer from fatigue during disease flares. It can take weeks, or even months, after a flare to get back to normal energy levels.

Fatigue may also be a prominent feature of the underlying illness, regardless of state of disease activity.

Its important to find out why you might be feeling exhausted, and ways you can manage it. This serves to limit the impact that fatigue has on your quality of life.

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Tips To Reduce Crohns Fatigue

If your fatigue is linked to a Crohns disease flare-up, its essential to discuss your treatment options with your doctor. These may include changing the type or dose of medication youre taking.

And regardless of whether youre having a flare-up, you may want to ask your doctor for a blood test to check your iron and vitamin B12 levels. If youre deficient in either, they may recommend working with a nutritionist to adjust your diet and adding supplements or injections.

No matter whats causing your fatigue, its important to stay active, Bloomfeld says. The January 2016 study review suggests that exercise can help reduce IBD-related fatigue. Stretching, light exercise, and yoga are all good options to try, as they can help you build strength and boost energy. Its important to listen to your body, but you dont need to stay in bed because of fatigue, he says.

Exercise can also help reduce depression and stress, which are often linked to fatigue and tend to go hand in hand with chronic illnesses like Crohns disease, according to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation. Plus, working out may also boost your immune system, the organization says.

If you feel tired all the time, talk to your doctor to make sure youre doing everything you can to treat all of the symptoms related to your Crohns disease, including fatigue.

Additional reporting by Colleen de Bellefonds

Symptoms Of Crohns Disease

While Crohns is a chronic disease, the patients will experience bouts of flare ups and remission with the absence of symptoms . About 50% of individuals with Crohns Disease will have mild symptoms. The other half may experience more severe symptoms and pain that appears to come and go. These patients undergo painful exacerbations and potentially symptom free remissions. The remissions might last for months to years but the symptoms will eventually return. This unpredictable nature is part of what makes Crohns so complicating. Typical symptoms include:

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Organize Your Medical Information

Having a handle on your medical information will make you a more powerful advocate for yourself.

I am a congenitally disorganized person. So, after years of papers flying all over the place, a friend helped me create a physical notebook, with tabs for Articles, Notes from Medical Appointments, Medical History, Current Medications, and Lab Results.

I had all of my lab results sent to me, and I alphabetized them with tabs, like Lupus, Lyme, Parvovirus, and Parasites. That made every appointment more productive for me and my providers.

Lose Weight To Gain Energy


If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and youll feel much more energetic.

Apart from eating healthily, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to be more active and do more exercise.

Many people dont get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day.

The website of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has information on sleeping well.

Tips for sleeping well include:

  • going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day
  • avoiding naps in the day
  • taking time to relax before you go to bed

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A Huge Deal’: Millions Have Long Covid And More Are Expected

Nov. 16, 2022 â Roughly 7% of all adult Americans may currently have had long COVID, with symptoms that have lasted 3 months or longer, according to the latest U.S. government survey done in October. More than a quarter say their condition is severe enough to significantly limit their day-to-day activities â yet the problem is only barely starting to get the attention of employers, the health care system, and policymakers.

With no cure or treatment in sight, long COVID is already burdening not only the health care system, but also the economy â and that burden is set to grow. Many experts worry about the possible long-term ripple effects, from increased spending on medical care costs to lost wages due to not being able to work, as well as the policy implications that come with addressing these issues.

âAt this point, anyone who’s looking at this seriously would say this is a huge deal,â says senior Brookings Institution fellow Katie Bach, the author of a study that analyzed long COVIDâs impact on the labor market.

âWe need a real concerted focus on treating these people, which means both research and the clinical side, and figuring out how to build a labor market that is more inclusive of people with disabilities,â she says.

Itâs not only that many people are affected. Itâs that they are often affected for months and possibly even years.

This can translate into pain not only for the patients, but for governments and employers, too.

Reducing the Risk

Try To Be More Productive Earlier In The Day

This may be easier said than done, depending on what your job is and whether you have kids.

Humans are hard-wired to have the most energy earlier in the day because our bodies produce the most cortisol when we wake up. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in the body and plays a role in waking us up and keeping energy up during the day.

The level of cortisol should decrease during the day, which lends itself to melatonin production. Our bodies produce the most melatonin in the evening and maintain those levels to help us stay asleep.

The balance between melatonin and cortisol is part of our innate circadian rhythm. Think of it like a see-saw effect. When one is at its high point, the other is at its low point. However, there are diet and lifestyle factors that can throw off this balance.

Thats why its best to plan for energy-draining activities earlier in the day when you can handle it.

Consider scheduling these types of activities earlier in the day:

  • going to appointments
  • cleaning, doing laundry, and prepping meals
  • meeting friends

This can even apply to tasks for your job. If possible, schedule meetings and activities that require heavy lifting in the first half of the day and leave tasks that could be categorized more as maintenance in the afternoon.

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Why Crohns Disease Triggers Fatigue

Home Remedies for Crohn

Fatigue has been shown to be more prevalent in people with Crohns disease, and sometimes its related to a flare, says Richard Seth Bloomfeld, MD, a gastroenterologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But fatigue is also common when the disease is well controlled, and we dont know why that is.

Here are a few causes of fatigue in people with Crohns.

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Is Fatigue A Common Crohn’s Disease Symptom What Can Be Done About It

Fatigue, an overwhelming sense of tiredness and lack of energy, is an all-too-common symptom of Crohn’s disease. Fatigue can have a major impact on people who have Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, affecting their work, daily life and quality of life.

Besides direct effects from the disease, other factors that frequently affect people with Crohn’s diseasepain, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleepingalso contribute to fatigue.

What can be done about it? Fatigue is a tricky problem with no easy answer. Here are a few ideas:

To fight fatigue, include physical activity in your daily routine, eat healthy foods, drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and get enough sleep. Be sure to share your concerns about fatigue with your doctor so that he or she can help find ways to address this issue.

Ways To Fight Crohns Fatigue

Its true that your exhaustion could be due to sleepless nights, stress, and even situations unrelated to Crohns, but sometimes medical intervention may be needed. Work with your doctor to rule out or address whats causing your fatigue and make lifestyle changes to cope. Heres where to start:

  • Assess anemia. The Crohns and Colitis Foundation reports about 1 in 3 people with Crohns have anemia. A blood test can determine whether or not youre anemic. At its most severe, anemia is life-threatening. Iron supplements given orally or through an IV can also help with iron deficiency. A review published in 2019 in the journal Acta Haematologica notes that oral iron can effectively treat anemia, but because it can change your gut bacteria, IV iron is preferred. And IV iron supplementation is the preferred treatment for people with active inflammation. According to the American Society of Hematology, blood transfusions can be a temporary solution if a person is actively bleeding or feeling chest pain and shortness of breath. While blood transfusions improve your blood, you will need to take other steps to address or prevent anemia.
  • Switch medications.Corticosteroids such as prednisone are commonly prescribed for patients with Crohns, but they can interfere with sleeping, according to the Mayo Clinic. If fatigue is a side effect of one of your medications, you might need to switch. Do so only with your doctors supervision.
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    Physical And Mental Impacts

    MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam members frequently discuss fatigue and how it affects them physically and mentally.

    Im really, really fatigued and sore. I tried to take a walk this morning and could only go four blocks, wrote one member.

    Fatigue can also affect a persons cognitive functioning. One team member described their fatigue: Brain fog, slurred speech, stumbles. I used to get the same effects on a Friday night out. This isnt nearly as fun.

    Fatigue can also have an impact on your sleep patterns. As one team member shared, Having not slept for four nights out of the week, I spent my weekend in bed fatigued and unable to get up! Does anyone else suffer from insomnia or sleeping too much? And do you get bad fatigue that leaves you unable to do anything?

    Ibd & Related Conditions

    Doctor explains how COVID-19 can impact those with Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

    One common reason for fatigue is anemia. People with IBD may be anemic either due to frank blood loss from the intestine , or from an iron deficiency. Malabsorption of vitamins and minerals is common in IBD, and without enough iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12, the body cant make more red blood cells. Treating the cause of the anemia, be it stopping the bleeding or supplementing with iron or B vitamins, would be the best course of action to treat anemia associated with IBD.

    Arthritis is the most common extra-intestinal complication of IBD. Another type of auto-immune disease, arthritis, comes with its own causes of fatigue, such as pain and inflammation. Some forms of arthritis will improve when IBD is under control, and other forms are independent of the status of the IBD. If arthritis is a suspected cause of fatigue, the best course of action would be to treat both the IBD and the arthritis.

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    Science Behind Ibd And Sleep Disturbance

    Sleep and the intricate relationship between sleep and IBD are a keen area of research interest because they are now thought to be an important environmental factor that may contribute to disease flares. There is good evidence about the link between sleep deprivation and the activation of the immune system, and the ability to mount an immune response . In a meta-analysis of experimental sleep deprivation studies, sleep disturbances were associated with increases in CRP and IL-6 . The largest studies that show a relationship between altered sleep patterns and inflammatory disorders are in shift workers. In one study, male electricians and male food and beverage industry workers had a statistically significant increased propensity for developing UC and CD, which was thought to be related to irregular hours and interrupted sleep patterns . Patients with IBD with poor sleep have increased rates of disease relapse, and lower sleep quality scores are predictive of subclinical histological inflammation and disease relapse at 6 months . In another study, patients with CD in remission had a twofold increased risk of disease recurrence at 6 months however, this was not seen in patients with UC . Ananthakrishnan et al. also found a higher incidence of UC in individuals with less than 6 h of sleep or more than 9 h of sleep .

    Fatigue And Ibd: 4 Facts To Know

    Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a range of disorders that primarily affect the digestive tract. Fatigue is a common and often debilitating symptom of IBD. The two most common forms of IBD Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and weight loss in addition to fatigue.

    Fatigue refers to exhaustion or an overwhelming lack of energy. This exhaustion is not proportionate to the amount of physical or mental work a person is performing and is not relieved by rest. Fatigue is common in many chronic illnesses.

    Many factors can contribute to fatigue in people with IBD, including disease activity, anemia, and certain medications used to treat IBD.

    Because fatigue in IBD is a many-sided condition, it can be challenging to manage. Despite the prevalence of fatigue in those with IBD, the symptom also often goes unrecognized and untreated. Understanding the causes of fatigue and its relationship to IBD can be an essential step in improving your quality of life.

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