How to Manage Fatigue From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Get Better Sleep
It sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but you might have fatigue because you're not sleeping well. Even one night of tossing and turning can affect how you feel during the day. "It's harder on patients with RA to lose sleep than it is for other people," Goodman says.
You'll get more shut-eye if you take up the right bedtime habits. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool, and avoid looking at your cell phone or watching TV in bed, Goodman says. If pain keeps you awake, talk to your doctor about whether there are better ways to manage your symptoms.
Lift Your Spirits
RA and some of the medicines that treat it raise your risk for depression, which can make you feel more tired than usual.
A therapist can help you manage your emotional health. A psychiatrist may also prescribe antidepressants if he thinks that's right for you.
Goodman also recommends joining a support group to talk to others who have rheumatoid arthritis. "They can make you feel less isolated if you're having a tough time," she says, and help you find different ways to approach the challenges that come with RA.
Check Your Medicines
Ask your doctor if any of the meds you take could play a role in your fatigue. Drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), antihistamines, and selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can cause you to feel drowsy.
Also, keep in mind that RA is an autoimmune disorder, which means it makes the body's immune system, your body's defense against germs, work overtime. This can make you feel exhausted, almost like you're constantly fighting the flu. Medicines that stop the immune system from working so hard may help you feel better overall and boost your energy levels.
Choose Healthy Foods
Eat balanced meals that have plenty of fruits, veggies, and lean protein. It will give you a steady stream of energy throughout the day.
Avoid food that's high in fat and sugar, and keep an eye on portion sizes. When you put on pounds it can make you feel sluggish, and your RA symptoms may get worse.