Ulcerative colitis causes fatigue and inflammation in the lining of the colon and rectum. Nearly 75 percent of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients – including those with ulcerative colitis – experience fatigue during a flare-up.
A 2011 study also revealed that nearly 30 percent of participants had fatigue even when not experiencing a flare-up.
Although fatigue is not considered to be a universal symptom of ulcerative colitis, it is still reported to be quite common. A more effective management of ulcerative colitis may help you also experience greater improvements in energy levels.
Fatigue is much more than simply feeling tired. It can get so bad that it may actually impair one’s ability to carry out daily functions. The worse part about fatigue is its unpredictability. Fatigue can strike like lighting, turning a person from being full of life and energy to feeling completely wiped out.
In ulcerative colitis, fatigue may be your body’s response to inflammation in the colon. Fatigue could also be related to anemia, malabsorption of nutrients, side effects of medications, poor sleep, being overweight or underweight, and pain. Emotional stress could trigger fatigue, too.
Tips to manage your fatigue with ulcerative colitis
Because fatigue can be debilitating and prevent you from carrying out your daily tasks, it’s important to be aware of the steps you can take to help combat fatigue experienced in ulcerative colitis. Here are some tips to manage your fatigue associated with ulcerative colitis.
- Control your ulcerative colitis: work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan to better manage your condition.
- Rule out other causes of fatigue: have yourself check for anemia, sleep disorders, mental health problems, and anything else that could be contributing to fatigue.
- Exercise regularly.
- Try to improve your sleep: aiming to get at least eight hours a night is a good goal for improving the quality of your sleep. Ensure your sleeping space is conductive for proper sleep.
- Supplement with vitamins: with sever colitis, absorbing vitamins and nutrients may be difficult, so your doctor may recommend mineral and vitamin supplementation to help boost your nutrition and combat fatigue.
- Plan ahead: if you have an upcoming event, plan ahead and get plenty of rest beforehand.
- Make adjustments to your work day, if possible: if the standard nine-to-five schedule isn’t working for your fatigue, try to find ways to create a different schedule so you can be more productive.
- Reduce stress: stress can be taxing on the body, promoting and worsening your fatigue.
- Become aware of your triggers: knowing what prompts your fatigue can help you reduce it. A good example of a common fatigue trigger is poor sleep.
By following these tips, you can have greater success at managing your fatigue while living with ulcerative colitis.