- Rheumatoid arthritis comes with inflammation that causes fatigue.
- Fatigue can make you lose sleep, which can worsen the exhaustion you’re feeling.
- Exercising can help alleviate fatigue.
Fatigue is a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It’s more than just being tired, rather a feeling of being totally out of energy. It can also make you feel weary, foggy, or forgetful.
RA can affect your central nervous system and cause high inflammation levels that lead to severe fatigue that makes sleeping hard. It can also cause pain and mood problems.
How to Manage RA Fatigue
A mix of treatments, lifestyle changes, and a new attitude can help you manage fatigue.
1. Recognize that fatigue is a part of life with RA.
You can’t always predict when fatigue is going to hit you. Listen to your body, and rest when you need to. Take breaks when doing a task that consumes your energy.
2. Tune out the guilt.
Your friends and family may not understand if you have to take a raincheck on an important event because you’re too tired. Tell them that fatigue is a symptom of your disease, and ask for help if you need to. Don’t push yourself too hard, especially on days when fatigue is high.
3. Get regular exercise.
It may seem counterintuitive, but according to studies, an aerobic activity like brisk walking, swimming, yoga, and tai chi, reduces fatigue in people who have an immune system disorder. Exercise also makes your bones, and the muscles around your joints stronger, and your mood better. When you’re feeling too exhausted, a simple stretch is good enough.
4. Take breaks.
Take regular rest breaks during the day, depending on your everyday schedule. If you’re more productive in the morning, take a break at noon. Taking two or three short periods of rest may provide the boost you need.
5. Eat the right foods.
Eat fresh, whole foods like fruits and veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, and dairy products. Nuts and cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that help ease inflammation. Eating small meals throughout the day can prevent sluggishness.
6. Drink water.
Fatigue may also indicate dehydration. Aim to drink about eight glasses a day, or more if you’re extra active or when the weather is warm.
7. Stick to a sleep routine.
Good sleeping habits can help you get enough rest, so you feel less tired the next day. Have a consistent sleep and wake up time every day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, anD turn off devices when it’s time for bed. A dark, quiet room can help you sleep better.
8. Seek counseling or therapy.
With help from a mental health professional, you can relieve the stress that aggravates your fatigue and help you have more control over the effects of fatigue on your life.
9. Explore additional treatments.
Massage can help ease stress and anxiety because it enables you to let go of your thoughts and doze off. Acupuncture can also be helpful. Consult with your doctor before you start any herbal treatment or nonmedical therapy.
10. Talk to your doctor.
If nothing works, tell your doctor so they can help you find out what the real problem is.
Fatigue can also be caused by anemia, which can result from long-term inflammation from RA, or a side effect of medicines. Other causes of fatigue include pain, depression, losing too much muscle, or infections.