Try These Lifestyle Tweaks To Ease Symptoms Of Fatigue
You dont know from tired until youve dealt with a condition like rheumatoid arthritis . As many as 98 percent of people with RA report energy-sapping fatigue, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Debilitating exhaustion is also common with conditions like fibromyalgia, depression, and, of course, chronic fatigue syndrome. Like rheumatoid arthritis pain, RA fatigue is a legitimate, real symptom, a common complaint that drives people living with these diseases to the doctor.
While you should discuss treatment changes that may improve your symptoms with your doctor, it is worth considering your own routine, too. As it turns out, a few little lifestyle changes can go a long way toward boosting energy levels and helping to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms for some people.
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Get Moving And Stay Strong
Dr. Rosian says stretching and staying active are both important. Even though you might have fatigue, its so important to move your joints. You want to keep your flexibility and your strength.
She likens keeping your joints active to a gate hinge. If it rusts, and you keep using it, its still going to be useful. But if you dont use it, its going to lock up. The same sort of thing happens to our joints.
Strengthening is as important as stretching, she adds. You want your muscles to stay strong because they move your joints. When you use your muscles, youre less fatigued. Some studies say a 15-minute walk is as refreshing as a 15-minute or half-hour nap. Sometimes activity is actually good for you to reduce pain and stiffness.
Lifting light weights, swimming and walking are great options. Tai Chi is also good for balance and strengthening and stretching, says Dr. Rosian. Some people also find yoga helpful, although others might not due to the strain it puts on the wrist.
Ethics Approval And Consent To Participate
Ethical approvals for the original studies, and further use of data , were obtained from the Ethics Committee of the State Chamber of Physicians . Consent to participate was obtained from all participants at the time of recruitment to each trial. At the time of recruitment, participants also provided consent for their data to be stored and used further without naming names .
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Helping People Around You Understand Fatigue
Fatigue is a major symptom of many conditions, such as arthritis often its as much of a problem as pain and inflammation. But its an invisible symptom and a lot of people avoid talking about it because they think their family, friends and colleagues wont understand.
It can be stressful if you think people around you dont understand how youre feeling. Even when you explain, some people may struggle to realise how fatigue affects you and that it stops you doing certain activities. This can be frustrating and tiring and can put a big strain on your relationships. Getting help, support and understanding from the people around you can make a huge difference.
Good communication and explaining clearly and calmly how fatigue affects you is important to help others understand.
Its ok to say that you need help with tasks around the home.
Learning to say you cant do something or go somewhere because of the way it will affect you can help. It may also reassure people that sometimes you just dont feel up to socialising and its no reflection on their company.
If people ask for your help with something, remember its ok to say no. Its ok to put yourself first.
If you find it difficult to talk about your fatigue, you could ask people to read this information.
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Get Help For Depression
Mood disorders like depression take a toll on energy levels, and they commonly occur in people with chronic pain conditions. In fact, research has shown that nearly three-quarters of those with RA were depressed.
Left untreated, depression may lead to more severe arthritis symptoms, including greater arthritis pain and fatigue. Other conditions, such as obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and anemia may also contribute to fatigue, adds Dr. Schiopu.
While depression, sleep disorders, and other factors could be linked to inflammatory arthritis, they may also be independent conditions that patients have, she says. Your doctor may screen for these and other conditions to find the root cause, and then determine the best treatment.
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How Can We Reduce Fatigue
Like so many things in life, its better not to go it alone. There are things that can be done by your doctor, friends, family, and even your workplace, that can help you in your day to day life.
Your doctor can:
- Suggest lifestyle changes that may improve your energy.
- Make a to-do list and cross off the least important things.
- Do some exercise exercise supports the joints.
- Eat healthy. Get your protein for strong muscles and carbs for energy.
- Check out CBT and learn how to reframe your mindset.
- Talk to your boss at work perhaps you could work from home or change your hours.
- Try to ask for help when you need it people cant always see or know when you need help.
Fatigue In Chronic Rheumatologic Diseases
Unusual and chronic fatigue with various etiologies was described for 27 % of patients in a primary care clinic . Fatigue is common in RA, SpA, Sjögren syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus and vasculitis, although most publications concerned fatigue in RA or SpA . In RA and SpA, the frequency of fatigue ranged from 42 % to 80 % depending on the definition and methods of assessment . For 75 % of patients with ankylosing arthritis and 50 % of those with RA, fatigue was considered severe .
Several methods of evaluation have been used to investigate fatigue in rheumatologic diseases . The simplest and quickest scale is the visual analog scale , but this is a unidirectional scale. Multidirectional scales developed to include the different aspects of fatigue are the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 vitality subscale , the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Fatigue Scale , the Profile of Mood States, the RA-specific Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue scale, the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, the Brief Fatigue Inventory, and the Fatigue Severity Scale . With the VAS scale, the mean fatigue level in patients with RA was 42.1 .
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Reason : Its A Byproduct Of Ra
Eighty percent of RA patients experience significant fatigue. The reason: RA causes the body to make inflammatory proteins, called Tumor Necrosis Factor, or TNF, and weve known for a very long time that they cause fatigue,, says Jonathan M. Greer, M.D., a rheumatology and internal medicine specialist in Palm Beach County, FL, and assistant clinical professor of medicine at both Nova Southeastern University and the University of Miami. But that doesnt mean all is lost. A Rheumatology study found that patients receiving anti-TNF therapies experienced clinically important improvements in RA-related fatigue.
What Are The Features Of Fatigue
Common features of fatigue include:
- your body and limbs feeling heavy and difficult to move
- flu-like feelings of exhaustion
- the feeling that your energy has drained away.
Many people also report mental fatigue, when they cant think straight and lose their concentration or motivation. Some people refer to this as brain fog. Some people report an emotional fatigue which makes them irritable, down or tearful. This fatigue isnt the same as chronic fatigue syndrome, its a symptom related to RA , and you can learn to manage it successfully.
Feelings of fatigue may occur at any time of the day. You may experience it when you wake up, so you dont feel refreshed from sleep, or it may come on when youre physically busy or concentrating a lot. For many people, fatigue seems to have no clear cause and happens without warning. It may last anywhere from an hour to the whole day and could continue over several days or weeks at a time, although this is less common.
Fatigue can have a major impact on your life. It can force you to stop what youre doing and rest, or make you change your plans. This can have a big effect on your ability to run your life or do the things that we all take for granted.
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What Causes Chronic Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It can be one of the first warning signs of RA before the diagnosis is confirmed. For many patients, the onset of chronic fatigue symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis can be vague and difficult to categorize and may be attributed to other causes.
The cause of chronic fatigue can sometimes be difficult to identify because there are many factors to consider. Some of the different factors that cause chronic fatigue include:
- Poor sleeping patterns
- Poor diet and lack of physical activity
In addition to the regular rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, fatigue becomes even more chronic and debilitating when other medical complications are involved. Fibromyalgia, obesity, heart disease, respiratory disease such as COPD, and depression, are a few examples that can complicate and worsen the effects of fatigue.
What Causes Extreme Weakness And Tiredness
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It is normal to feel weak and tired after executing some strenuous activities either at home or in the office. Weakness, tiredness or exhaustion can occur when you have flu, cold, or a viral infection. But it is considered abnormal if you perpetually experience extreme weakness and tiredness. It may require you to confer with your doctor.
Extreme weakness is a form of lasting fatigue it is a protracted form of exhaustion. Extreme weakness and tiredness is an unexplained and persistent tiredness. Extreme weakness is similar to the feeling you get when you come down with the flu or when you have insufficient sleep.
Extreme weakness and tiredness is similar to symptoms experienced when you have chronic fat, or systemic exertion intolerance disease . When you are very weak and exhausted extremely, you may be incapable of being productive at the home front. In this article, we examined the possible causes of extreme weakness and tiredness and possible ways you can overcome them.
So, what causes extreme exhaustion? Extreme weakness and tiredness may be caused by some possible factors such as:
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What Causes Fatigue In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Several factors cause rheumatoid arthritis fatigue. One of these factors is the disease itself. Inflamed tissues release chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines normally help the body attack bacteria and viruses, but in people with rheumatoid arthritis, these cytokines cause the body to attack healthy tissue. However, the excess cytokines still create the same worn-down tiredness people experience during a bout of a cold or the flu.
See what Rheumatologist Dr. Ashira Blazer says about fatigue and RA.
Anemia is also common in people who have rheumatoid arthritis anywhere from 10 percent to two-thirds of people with RA have the condition. Anemia is a lack of red blood cells. The inflammation rheumatoid arthritis causes also limits red blood cell production. Without enough red blood cells, people with rheumatoid arthritis arent able to get enough oxygen into their blood, causing tiredness.
Joint pain also can make it difficult to participate in physical activity, which creates a vicious cycle. The less physical activity you participate in, the more likely you are to feel chronic fatigue, which makes it even harder to get up and get moving. A lack of physical activity may also cause sleep apnea, which can contribute to fatigue.
Reason : Finances Are Stretched
Feeling pain in your wallet is exhausting, too. Dont be shy about asking for help with medication costs. Many pharmaceutical companies have programs to assist patients who use their medicines, says Dr. Hylland. For instance, the company that makes the treatment Xeljanz offers a co-payment card that helps offset the cost of the medication. Also, explore discount programs like Good Rx. And inform your doctor. He can sometimes tailor a less expensive program for you or direct you to social workers who can help find organizations that assist in costs of medicines, Dr. Hylland says.
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Talking To Your Doctor About Fatigue
There are several things that can reduce the impact of fatigue. Firstly, it helps if you can work out what could be causing it.
There arent any specific tests for fatigue. However, you can help your doctors diagnosis by writing down how you feel, what could be causing it and how its affecting your life. They may also be able to provide you with a self-assessment questionnaire to fill out.
Depending on your symptoms your doctor may recommend you have blood tests to check your fatigue hasnt been caused by another condition. If it has been, treating this condition may improve your fatigue.
There arent any specific drug treatments for fatigue. However, your doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or rheumatology team, should be able to help you recognise the signs and learn to manage them.
Sleep Hygiene Can Help Improve Fatigue Symptoms
Many underestimate the importance of maintaining good sleep habits. Further, poor sleep has been associated with increased levels of pain in RA and fibromyalgia. Domingues offers the following tips to chronic disease patients looking to improve their sleep hygiene:
- Only go to your bed to sleep. Do not read, watch TV, play cards, or use computers in your bed. Instead, make your bed the place where your body knows, implicitly, that it is time to sleep.
- Try minimizing exposure to plain blue light from devices such as phones and tablets. Most of the newer versions have an option for warmer light that kicks in at nighttime.
- Coffee is a good friend to many, but avoid caffeine intake after 6 pm.
CreakyJoints is an online community of patients and families who are looking for arthritis resources and support. Founded in 1999, it now includes more than 100,000 arthritis patients and their family members. To learn more and to join for free, go to CreakyJoints.org.
Important: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.
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Increase Your Physical Activity
Adding some gentle exercises to your day can increase the amount of energy you have.
Staying active increases your fitness levels and strengthens your muscles. Weak muscles use more energy, so doing too little can be as damaging as doing too much.
Exercise also increases your circulation and improves the health of vital organs, such as your heart and lungs, which can also give you more energy.
Its important to give yourself time to recover after exercise by taking a break before you move onto your next activity.
When you start exercising
Introducing more physical activity to your day may be tiring at first. Dont overdo it, start your activity slowly, perhaps just add a 510 minute walk or some gentle stretching exercises to begin with.
If youre in pain you can take painkillers before you exercise.
Gradually build up the amount of activity you do. For example, when youre ready, walk for 5 more minutes or add some strengthening exercises to your routine.
Generally, the best way to build up your fitness levels is to do a little exercise as often as you can. Stick with it because as you get fitter youll start to feel better, stronger and more energetic.
You could try using a step counter such as a fitness tracker, a pedometer, or a mobile phone app. When youre ready and depending on how youre feeling, you could try to beat your previous records.
You should aim to exercise every day. But be aware some days will be easier than others.
Rest Before And After Particularly Active Days Whenever Possible
Its been 12 years since Creaky Joints volunteer Elisa C., 55, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and making sure she has plenty of downtime before and after busy days is one of the habits that have helped her most in that time.
If Im going to have a fun day with my husband at the park, I know to plan several days for that, she tells SELF. For her, that can mean doing food prep in advance and freezing meals so that she doesnt use up too much energy cooking the day before her planned activity. She also plans on having a rest day filled with naps and just taking it easy, after her activity day, Elisa says.
Although you cant always anticipate every single event that pops up, this can be helpful to try whenever you make plans in advance. Or you can try to modify this by scheduling a quick 20-minute nap or fitting in a few rest breaks whenever possible in the days after a super-hectic time.
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How To Address Ra Fatigue Naturally: A Snapshot
Here are the main points you need to know to address RA fatigue naturally.
- Start with identifying the potential causes:
Heres an encouraging statistic: RA patients with fatigue who participated in group therapy for 6 months had improvements in emotional and physical fatigue that lasted two years ! Its absolutely possible to improve RA fatigue in a sustainable way. And group therapy isnt the only option available. Lets move on to finding the causes of fatigue in RA and then examine what you can do to manage it.