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What is Lupus Fatigue?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Lupus fatigue is reportedly experienced by more than 80% of all people who suffer from the disease. Fatigue associated with lupus encompasses both mental and physical tiredness and may be linked to cognitive dysfunction. There are many symptoms of lupus that can lead to fatigue, including sleep disorders, pain, and anemia. As with any type of fatigue, lupus fatigue is particularly difficult to diagnose and treat, as there are no simple tests doctors can perform to isolate the cause.

The link between lupus fatigue and cognitive dysfunction has been extensively studied, but whether the dysfunction is the cause of lupus fatigue or the result of the disease itself is still unclear. Cognitive dysfunction is a mental condition that is characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and the inability to concentrate, all of which commonly cause fatigue. What researchers still do not understand is which comes first—the lupus fatigue or the cognitive dysfunction.

In attempting to diagnose the causes of extreme lupus fatigue, researchers began by separating mental fatigue and physical fatigue. Physical fatigue seemed to be more severe in those who did not get enough daily exercise and was lessened when exercise was introduced. One exception, however, was in lupus patients who were also suffering from depression. In this group, exercise generally did not have any measurable effect on fatigue. Though mental fatigue was also linked to severity of depression, pain levels seemed to be the primary contributing factor.

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Sleep disorders are common in people who suffer from lupus and are likely one of the causes of lupus fatigue. Lupus sufferers typically report having trouble falling asleep, and their sleep is often interrupted by periods of wakefulness, so they rarely get a good night’s rest. In addition to fatigue, sleep disorders can result in depression and cognitive dysfunction.

Anemia is common in people who have lupus, and it is also a common cause of fatigue. It is characterized as an iron deficiency and results in blood cells being unable to transport adequate oxygen. It can usually be treated with iron supplements and dietary changes. Patients with lupus are encouraged to eat iron-rich foods such as eggs, red meats, and leafy green vegetables.

The exact cause of lupus has not been defined, and there is still no known cure. There are, however, some measures that can be taken to alleviate some of the symptoms. Patients are encouraged to eat a balanced diet and to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Sleep disorders may require medications or lifestyle changes.

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literally45
Post 3

@burcidi-- Some vitamins and herbal supplements can help with fatigue. Vitamin B is very helpful, especially a B complex supplement that has a variety of B vitamins.

I've also heard good things about licorice root supplements and coenzyme q10 supplements for more energy and better overall health.

Before you take anything though, check with your doctor. I know that some supplements are not okay for lupus patients because it makes the immune system more active and you want to avoid that.

serenesurface
Post 2

@burcidi-- I've noticed that my fatigue lessens when my lupus is under control. I think the best we can do is try and avoid flare ups and follow doctor's recommendations.

The bad part about lupus is that the medications used to treat it help with lupus symptoms. But these medications can also cause fatigue as a side effect. It seems like some fatigue is unavoidable either way.

burcidi
Post 1

I already have a good diet and I make sure to walk for thirty minutes everyday. But I'm still exhausted and it's not getting better.

Who else has lupus fatigue? Have you found anything that helps?

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