Fighting Fatigue

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes a wide range of symptoms. One of the most prevalent symptoms experienced in suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is chronic fatigue. Fighting fatigue for rheumatoid arthritis patients seems like an ongoing uphill battle.

For those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis feelings of fatigue and constant tiredness can make it difficult to get through each day. But there are some ways to help beat fatigue, stay alert, and feel more rested and happy.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue is the constant feeling of weariness or overwhelming tiredness that doesn’t seem to improve or change regardless of the amount of sleep received. Patients may receive their regular eight hours of sleep each night and still feel fatigued during the day.

Fatigue affects people physically, mentally and emotionally. When people experience fatigue they feel as though their energy has been depleted and they don’t have the will to perform daily activities.

Fatigue may come and go or worsen during certain times. Fatigue may also not be preceded by physical activity or may occur even when the patient isn’t experiencing a flare-up.

How Fatigue Affects You

Fatigue can be a serious symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Those who suffer from chronic fatigue report that it makes them feel physically tired to the point where they move slower or don’t want to move at all. Your limbs may feel heavy, weak or difficult to move.

Fatigue also affects one’s ability to focus making it difficult to perform tasks at work or school. It may also be challenging to pay attention during conversations. Fatigue can also deplete the willpower necessary to participate in usual social activities and hobbies.

Being tired and sluggish all the time also forces people to rest more leaving little time to do other things. It may also make them feel ill, unwell and exhausted.

What Causes Fatigue?

Fatigue is one of the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also one of the first warning signs before diagnosis. For some patients, it can seem difficult to figure out why they are feeling tired constantly.

The cause of 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
  • Stress and depression
  • Side effects of medications
  • Inflammation and flare-ups
  • Anemia (low levels of iron in blood)
  • 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, depression, and headaches can all compound and worsen the effects of fatigue.

Ways to Fight Fatigue

Fighting fatigue for rheumatoid arthritis patients can be a challenge. However, there are some ways to improve you energy levels and beat chronic fatigue. Here are some of the things you can do to help fight fatigue in your daily life:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose the right diet
  • Take breaks
  • Get better rest
  • Change medications
  • Seek counselling and support

Physical Exercise

Regular exercise helps boost energy levels and is one of the best methods of fighting fatigue for rheumatoid arthritis. Even spending as little as 30 minutes per day doing light exercise like walking can improve alertness and increase mood levels.

Try light stretching or slow yoga and tai chi movements to wake up your body and mind. Moving around increases blood flow and stimulates the mind leading to better focus and alertness.

Diet Shifts

Certain foods are linked to causing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Be sure to eliminate these foods from your diet and choose better foods that are healthy and will give you plenty of nourishment. Fruits, vegetables, and natural foods can help boost energy levels and beat chronic fatigue.

Fatigue ca also be caused by the amount of food eaten. Avoid eating large portions of food that can make you feel more tired as your body works to digest it all.

Take Breaks

Often we find we push ourselves too hard. Because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, it can naturally deplete energy levels. Frequent breaks and rest periods are important in fighting fatigue for rheumatoid arthritis patients.

If you sometimes forget to take breaks, try setting reminders and alarms to get your attention and alert you as to when break are needed.

Get Better Rest

You may be getting enough rest, but you’re possibly not getting the right quality of rest. Tossing and turning can disrupt sleep patterns and leave you feeling fatigued.

Develop the right sleeping habits by keeping your bedroom dark and cool. Put away all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before sleeping so as to avoid stimulation and distractions. Invest in the right mattress for your posture. Mattresses should be supportive of your muscles and joints.

Change Medications

A common side effect of certain medications is chronic fatigue and even depression. If you are experiencing chronic fatigue or symptoms of depression talk to your doctor about your concerns. Each person reacts differently to different types of medication. It may take some trial and error before finding the right type of medications for you.

Seek Counselling

When chronic fatigue starts to affect your daily life and your ability to perform social, family or work activities, it may be a sign of depression as well. A psychiatrist may be able to help prescribe medications to help you feel better.

A therapist or counselor can provide emotional support and guidance. Joining a support network and being around others who can relate to your struggle can also help boost your mood and lead to lower levels of fatigue.

Beating Fatigue by Improving Lifestyle

Fatigue can’t be beaten overnight. It requires small daily habit changes and lifestyle shifts to incorporate more activity, better rest, and improved dietary habits among other things. By assessing your daily activities, you can help determine what is causing your chronic fatigue.

Making lifestyle improvements based on what you feel is causing fatigue could drastically improve your energy levels and overall happiness. If you’re concerned about how chronic fatigue is affecting your life, talk to your rheumatologist about the options to beat fatigue and improve your wellbeing.