Fatigue in Auto Immune Disorders

February 27, 2019

Fatigue is more than just a desire for a shot of espresso in the morning or the need to hit the sack a little early to make up for a late night out. Fatigue can be a physically and emotionally debilitating condition – one that is not easy to solve and it goes beyond curling up on the couch with a throw blanket and a good movie waiting for of sleep to take its course. Fatigue can mean that sleep itself is troublesome.

Getting to know yourself and your limitations, however, and developing the patience and skill to cope with fatigue will give you the control you need back in your life so that you can cope with whatever life throws at you. The ability to manage your time and energy can have profound effects that reach well beyond coping with autoimmune disease and can give you hope.

What are the causes and symptoms of auto immune fatigue?

You may actually be your own best expert in understanding what completely wipes you out, though having an idea about what affects your energy level may not make it that much easier to find a solution on your own. Experts speculate that certain medications and overlapping diseases such as  anemia, fibromyalgia, and/or depression can be the cause of fatigue. Vitamin D sufficiency is a large contributor to fatigue in auto immune disorders.

Auto Immune fatigue can manifest itself both physically and/or emotionally. You may physically feel like your bones and joints are exhausted and worn down from constant pain and inflammation. You may feel emotionally fatigued from the stress of having an auto, the difficulties in coping with the changes to your life that a diagnosis brings, or the guilt you may struggle with because your role in your family or at work has drastically changed. All of this can understandably cause a significant amount of anxiety and depression.

Your cognitive function can also be affected by fatigue as you may experience brain fog. You may find yourself not being able to think as clearly, quickly, or coherently as you did before your diagnosis and this can be both frightening and frustrating. It’s also a vicious cycle because the more fatigued you become, the more you may experience brain fog – and vice versa.

How Can I “Manage” My Auto Immune Fatigue?

  1. Treat any underlying illnesses – Speak to our healthcare practitioners about your fatigue in order to either rule out – or treat – any underlying illness that may be going undiagnosed such as kidney issues, anemia, thyroid disease, or fibromyalgia.
  2. Exercise: Studies show that aerobic exercise may significantly help reduce fatigue.
  3. Diet:changes to your diet such as eating foods low on the glycemic index and low in calories can have many positive impacts how you feel, and these can indirectly help with fatigue – though it is not seen as a treatment.
  4. Vitamin D Supplementation: Vitamin D – or a lack of – can potentially impact your energy level.
  5. Acupuncture: Cunningham and Yuen recorded that 93% of individuals with lupus across 13 studies said that they experiencing less fatigue as a result of acupuncture.
  6.  Restorative Yoga and Therapeutic Massage Yoga and Massage practice can help you deal with fatigue and provide solutions for the associated stress and pain from your autoimmune disorder.

In Conclusion

Feelings of fatigue can make everything seem and feel worse. It is no wonder how debilitating and exhausting dealing with and auto immune disorder on a daily basis can be. Becoming in-tune with how you are feeling both physically and emotionally – both the good days and the bad – can be the key to discussion with a trusted healthcare practitioner, here at The Emperor's Medicine, about how to address the root causes of your auto immune disorder, not just taking the medications to cover up the symptoms and further damage your body.


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Ahn, G., & Ramsey-Goldman, R. (2012). Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus. International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 2012 7(2), 217-227.

Cunningham, M., & Yuen, H. (2014). Optimal management of fatigue in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: A systematic review. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4199565/pdf/tcrm-10-775.pdf

Fatigue. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/fatigue/basics/definition/sym-20050894

McMillen, M. (2011). Lupus fatigue: Causes and treatment tips. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/lupus/features/lupus-fatigue-causes-treatments#1

Strategies for managing fatigue. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.lupus.org/resources/strategies-for-managing-fatigue