Strategies for managing fatigue

Lupus Foundation of America

Resource Content

As many as 80 percent of people with lupus experience fatigue. For some people with lupus, fatigue is their main symptom. Fatigue can be debilitating, even to the point of forcing them to stop working.

It is unclear why extreme fatigue occurs in so many people with lupus. Several factors appear to be related to the experience of fatigue. These include disease activity and pain level, medications taken, age, poor mental and/or physical health, and the absence of sufficient social support.

80% of people with lupus experience fatigue

Poor coping strategies, feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety, smoking, and lack of exercise can also be related to lupus fatigue. Before a physician can conclude that fatigue is related to these factors, he or she will rule out any treatable causes of fatigue such as anemia, kidney failure, or hypothyroidism.

Physicians experienced with lupus recognize the harmful and even destructive effects that extreme fatigue can have, and research is underway to learn more about how to treat the problem. 

By making some adjustments, people with lupus-related fatigue can often learn how to avoid pushing themselves to exhaustion. Getting regular exercise and joining a support group can help.

Other tips to help you manage fatigue:

  • Alternate activities with periods of rest throughout the day.
  • Establish good sleep patterns.
  • Plan ahead for big events; for example, shop for gifts throughout the year.
  • Prepare meals in advance during periods when you have more energy.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Join a support group, either online or in-person.
  • If you smoke, stop.

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