Living well with lupus

How can I manage my fatigue?

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, but the following appear to play a role:

  • Disease activity
  • Pain
  • Age
  • Current medications
  • Poor physical and mental health
  • Lack of good social support

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. Getting regular exercise and being part of a support group can help.

By making some adjustments, people with lupus-related fatigue will be less likely to push themselves to exhaustion.

Tips to Help You Manage Fatigue

  • Alternate activities with periods of rest throughout the day.
  • Establish good sleep patterns.
  • Plan ahead; for example, shop for gifts throughout the year.
  • Prepare meals in advance.
  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Rest

Medically reviewed on June 20, 2013

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