Fatigue is a very common complaint of all people with
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), even when no other symptoms of active
disease are present. The fatigue of lupus isn't just being tired. You may feel
an extreme fatigue that interferes with many aspects of your daily life. You
may find that you are unable to participate in your normal pattern of daily
activities, such as working, caring for your family and home, or participating
in social activities. The exact cause of this fatigue is not known.
Your doctor and nurse will probably ask you about your
lifestyle and patterns of daily living and activity. They will also evaluate
your overall fitness, health, nutrition, and ability to handle stress. Your
doctor or nurse will then be able to advise you about how your fatigue can be
reduced. It is important to remember that getting enough rest, maintaining
physical fitness, and keeping stress under control are absolutely necessary for
anyone with lupus.
I had always been an athletic, healthy person, but in my late 30s my body
started sending signals that something was wrong. I was tired all the time. I
had no energy. I even started losing my hair.
When I went to my doctor, the staff ran blood tests, but nothing ever
pointed to a specific diagnosis. I lost weight. I couldn't keep food
down. I developed a butterfly-shaped rash on my face. I saw other doctors; they
thought it was all in my head, and, for a time, they didn't believe I was
Changes in your lifestyle and patterns of daily living and
activity may not be easy to accept. In addition, the changes necessary for you
to cope with your disease today may be different from the changes you may have
to make later as your disease changes. A positive attitude and a
well-thought-out, but flexible, plan of action will increase the chances that
you can make these changes successfully.
Caring for Yourself
Get enough sleep. You may be able to get by on 8 hours a night, or you may
Plan for additional rest periods throughout the day, as needed. Do not
Getting enough rest does not mean no activity at all. A well-designed
exercise program is important to maintaining strength, endurance, and overall
Every week, make a simple plan of your work and activities. The plan can
help you organize the events of your life and ensure that you have a good
balance of rest and activity.
Each day, review your plan and decide if you are physically up to the
activities for that day. Be flexible; if you don't have the strength to do an
activity today, do it another time.
Don't try to complete a large task or project all at one time; divide it
into several steps.
Eat a well-balanced diet.
Dealing with stressful issues and problems takes a lot of energy. If you
feel stressed out, talk with your doctor or nurse. They may be able to provide
you with help for your problem or direct you to someone else who can.
WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health
"The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Diseases of The National Institutes of Health. Preventing Fatigue Due to Lupus.
Last revised, January 26, 1999. (Online)