Look For Ways To Healthify Your Diet
A healthy lifestyle also includes eating well and drinking enough in order to get proper nutrients and avoid dehydration, which can contribute to fatigue. Dr. Singh notes that obesity can also be a cause of increased RA fatigue. So, consuming a good diet of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and lean meats in addition to exercising can keep your weight at a proper level, which puts less stress on joints and helps your body better handle the effects of the disease.
How Chronic Fatigue Affects You
Fatigue can be a serious and debilitating symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Those who suffer from chronic fatigue report that it makes them feel so physically exhausted that everyday tasks of life become a burden. They report that their limbs feel heavy, weak and are difficult to move.
Fatigue also affects ones ability to focus, making it difficult to perform daily tasks at home, work or school. It may also be challenging to pay attention during conversations. Chronic Fatigue can lead to decreased workplace productivity, social isolation, and depression.
Helping People Around You Understand Fatigue
Fatigue is a major symptom of many conditions, such as arthritis often its as much of a problem as pain and inflammation. But its an invisible symptom and a lot of people avoid talking about it because they think their family, friends and colleagues wont understand.
It can be stressful if you think people around you dont understand how youre feeling. Even when you explain, some people may struggle to realise how fatigue affects you and that it stops you doing certain activities. This can be frustrating and tiring and can put a big strain on your relationships. Getting help, support and understanding from the people around you can make a huge difference.
Good communication and explaining clearly and calmly how fatigue affects you is important to help others understand.
Its ok to say that you need help with tasks around the home.
Learning to say you cant do something or go somewhere because of the way it will affect you can help. It may also reassure people that sometimes you just dont feel up to socialising and its no reflection on their company.
If people ask for your help with something, remember its ok to say no. Its ok to put yourself first.
If you find it difficult to talk about your fatigue, you could ask people to read this information.
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I Built Restorative Rest Time Into My Day
Just as I have made changes to my life to manage my pain, I also needed to make changes to cope with fatigue. I treat my daily nap as a sacred part of my efforts to manage pain and fatigue and quickly learned that I feel much better when I respect my bodys request for some downtime. Even if you dont have the flexibility to nap, you can give your body rest in different ways, including sitting on a bench, finding a quiet corner at work to meditate, or taking half an hour of lying on the couch when you come home. Simply getting off your feet and being still can make a difference.
My RA doesnt define me, but the reality is that it does affect everything I do and how I do it. I have finally realized that fighting back against this fact wastes precious energy on a futile endeavour. I know now that if I want to live as well as possible, I need to take care of my body and that includes accepting the fatigue. Making changes that address this ultimately creates a better life for me.
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What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Options
- There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
- To date, the goal of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce joint inflammation and pain, maximize joint function, and prevent joint destruction and deformity.
- Early medical intervention has been shown to be important in improving outcomes.
- Aggressive management can improve function, stop damage to joints as monitored on X-rays, and prevent work disability.
- Optimal RA treatment involves a combination of medicines, rest, joint-strengthening exercises, joint protection, and patient education.
- Treatment is customized according to many factors such as disease activity, types of joints involved, general health, age, and patient occupation.
- RA treatment is most successful when there is close cooperation between the doctor, patient, and family members.
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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. This causes pain in your joints and different body parts. Primarily, RA impacts the feet and hands. But it can also affect larger joints like elbows and knees. Moreover, it can produce a variety of other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and joint stiffness.
With that said, now lets see what patients suffering from it say about what rheumatoid arthritis feels like.
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How Can I Help Myself
There are a number of things you can do to help manage your fatigue.
Planning your time wisely to spread your energy over the course of a day or week can help. Its also important to factor some gentle exercise into your day and to have a healthy diet.
Theres a strong link between getting enough good quality sleep and fatigue. And there are several positive steps you can take to improve your chances of sleeping well.
Stress and worry can make your fatigue feel worse, so its a good idea to spot anything that is causing you stress and try to deal with them in good time.
- The four Ps
- Get a good nights sleep
- Talk about how youre feeling
- Stress and anxiety
- Helping people around you understand fatigue
- At work
- Eat a healthy diet
When To See A Doctor
Theres no single test that determines whether you have RA. Your doctor may run several tests to help confirm a RA diagnosis. These tests include:
- checking your blood for specific antibodies such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP antibody
- taking samples of synovial fluid to look for inflammation or infection
- looking for inflammation
- ordering imaging tests to look at your joints and bones or evidence of inflammation or joint damage
Sometimes, X-rays are ineffective in diagnosing the disease. An MRI or ultrasound can show abnormalities in your joints before X-ray changes appear.
Dont be afraid to get a second opinion if youre still experiencing discomfort from your condition. A doctor can prescribe new medications if the ones youre taking arent working.
RA usually appears in people between the ages of 25 and 50. If you arent in this age range, you should still see a doctor if you think youre experiencing symptoms of RA. In the case of RA, the earlier you receive your treatment, the better your outcome is.
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Reason : Youre Not Sleeping
Whether youre in pain or worried about complications related to your diagnosis, know that insomnia is common in RA patients. Virtually all of my patients suffer with chronic fatigue during bouts of active rheumatoid disease, says Robert G. Hylland, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in North Shores, MI. He suggests examining your sleep habits and discussing the possibility of using sleep medication with your physician. And if youre prone to worry and guilt, ask to be referred to a cognitive behavioral therapist, he advises.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Living And Dealing With Fatigue
People with rheumatoid arthritis typically have several permanently inflamed joints. The inflammation inside the body can lead to general physical weakness, drowsiness and exhaustion. This feeling of extreme tiredness is also called “.” Some people find this to be the worst symptom of the disease.
Other typical symptoms are joint pain and swelling, and also joint stiffness and physical weakness later on. Non-specific symptoms like exhaustion often start earlier on in the disease. But the symptoms and course of rheumatoid arthritis can vary greatly. People also deal with the disease in different ways. Although people experience their symptoms differently and cope with the disease in different ways, there are some things that many people with rheumatoid arthritis have in common.
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What Causes Fatigue In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Several factors cause rheumatoid arthritis fatigue. One of these factors is the disease itself. Inflamed tissues release chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines normally help the body attack bacteria and viruses, but in people with rheumatoid arthritis, these cytokines cause the body to attack healthy tissue. However, the excess cytokines still create the same worn-down tiredness people experience during a bout of a cold or the flu.
See what Rheumatologist Dr. Ashira Blazer says about fatigue and RA.
Anemia is also common in people who have rheumatoid arthritis anywhere from 10 percent to two-thirds of people with RA have the condition. Anemia is a lack of red blood cells. The inflammation rheumatoid arthritis causes also limits red blood cell production. Without enough red blood cells, people with rheumatoid arthritis arent able to get enough oxygen into their blood, causing tiredness.
Joint pain also can make it difficult to participate in physical activity, which creates a vicious cycle. The less physical activity you participate in, the more likely you are to feel chronic fatigue, which makes it even harder to get up and get moving. A lack of physical activity may also cause sleep apnea, which can contribute to fatigue.
Try These Lifestyle Tweaks To Ease Symptoms Of Fatigue
You dont know from tired until youve dealt with a condition like rheumatoid arthritis . As many as 98 percent of people with RA report energy-sapping fatigue, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Debilitating exhaustion is also common with conditions like fibromyalgia, depression, and, of course, chronic fatigue syndrome. Like rheumatoid arthritis pain, RA fatigue is a legitimate, real symptom, a common complaint that drives people living with these diseases to the doctor.
While you should discuss treatment changes that may improve your symptoms with your doctor, it is worth considering your own routine, too. As it turns out, a few little lifestyle changes can go a long way toward boosting energy levels and helping to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms for some people.
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Can Physical Activity Help To Lessen Fatigue
Some people who have try to get fitter by doing gentle physical exercise, with the aim of fighting the exhaustion that way. A number of different activities are well-suited for this, including stretching and strengthening exercises, yoga, tai chi, brisk walking, cycling, water aerobics and swimming. These activities may also be done in specialized exercise therapy.
An analysis summarizing the research on different types of exercise shows that physical activity can help reduce . About 15 out of 100 people felt less exhausted after exercising. It’s still not clear what form of exercise would be most suitable, though.
Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Caused By Stress
The connection between stress and RA has been identified in numerous studies. An analysis of 16 studies, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy , found that: Stress tends to make RA symptoms worse. People with post-traumatic stress disorder have a higher risk of developing RA and other autoimmune diseases.
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Skin Rashes Or Open Sores
Visible changes to the skin are occasionally associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Rashes and open sores may be painful, itchy, or burning. While these skin abnormalities frequently develop on the lower legs, they can appear anywhere on the body.
Rashes and sores that may be associated with RA can vary widely in appearance. Examples include the following:
- Rheumatoid small-cell vasculitis10,11 can cause a rash of dark red or purple bumps on the skin. The bumps may form lesions and scab over.
- Urticarial vasculitis10 causes hives or raised pink patches. The patches may have whitish centers. On darker skin, changes in skin color may be less noticeable, but the skin will still be raised.
- Panniculitis10 refers to a family of conditions that cause painful red or purple lumps to develop on the lower legs. The most common type of panniculitis, erythema nodosum, may look like multiple bruises on the shins.
- Pyoderma gangrenosum10 typically begins as small red bumps that expand into painful open sores, sometimes in a matter of days. This condition is very rare and typically affects the skin on the lower legs.
- Infections may cause red or pink skin and eruptions that look like blisters or pimples. The affected area may ooze fluid or be crusted over.
Self Management Is Variable Professional Support Is Rare
Participants reported trying a variety of self-management strategies, particularly acceptance: âBut you got to accept that sometimes, and try and work around it, and work with it rather than just think âOh, Iâll battle through because I can make myself more fatigued and more tiredâ , adopting positive attitudes: âAnd I think its because Ive got a positive attitude that I get through it, and I dont go round complaining. I never say to my son, âOh, you know I feel dreadfulâ or âIâm tired. I just get on with itâ , and persistence: âIm aware at the moment that Im fighting it in that Im working through itâ . Participants reported using specific actions to deal with fatigue, particularly pacing and rest: âI just do a little bit in the morning, then Ill take a bit of a rest â¦ and then when I come back Ill do whatever else needs to doâ . Occasionally they made a choice to carry on regardless and take the consequences: âOr you go out and do it all in one day. Go mad and suffer for about 3 days afterâ .
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What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include the following:
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods
Rheumatoid arthritis affects each person differently. In most people, joint symptoms may develop gradually over several years. In other people, rheumatoid arthritis may proceed rapidly. A few people may have rheumatoid arthritis for a limited period of time and then go into remission .
Cartilage normally acts as a shock absorber between the joints. Uncontrolled inflammation causes the destruction and wearing down of the cartilage, which leads to joint deformities. Eventually, the bone itself erodes, potentially leading to fusion of the joint . This process is aided by specific cells and substances of the immune system, which are produced in the joints but also circulate and cause symptoms throughout the body.
Lanas Perspective About What Rheumatoid Arthritis Feels Like
RA varies from person to person and no two people develop the disease in the same way.
For some people, RA develops gradually, and for others, there is a sudden onset with no explanation. Symptom severity varies by person, and disease progression can be mild, moderate or severe. And symptoms and progression change with time.
Some people with RA are lucky enough to experience remission, a period where disease activity stops. But for most, remission doesnt occur, and they have persistent symptoms that require aggressive treatments.
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Psoriatic Arthritis: Flares And Fatigue
Psoriatic arthritis might cause fatigue in several ways. In part, the disease process itself may be to blame.
When you have psoriatic arthritis, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Those proteins trigger inflammation throughout your body a hallmark of the disease. Researchers believe the cytokines also cause fatigue, perhaps through several different pathways in your body.
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms come and go. Sometimes, they are relatively mild. Other times, the pain and swelling become significant. Those bad periods are known as flares. And when a flare occurs, fatigue often comes along for the ride.
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Stiffness In The Joints
In addition to pain, this disease causes stiffness in the affected joints. You may have difficulty getting out of bed or walking in the morning because of stiff and painful ankles, knees, or feet. This stiffness is usually worse in the mornings and can last for 45 minutes or more.
RA can also trigger swelling in the affected joints. Long-term inflammation can cause you to feel physically exhausted.
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Social Life Hobbies And Family
The impact of RA fatigue doesnt stop at work, career, or daily responsibilities. Fatigue also finds its way into a persons social and family life. When combined with pain, many people may set aside their favorite hobbies or activities in order to rest. 59 percent* said that fatigue interfered with their family and social life.
Talking With A Healthcare Provider About Fatigue
The first step to addressing fatigue is to talk to a health care provider or rheumatologist. Patients are advised to describe when and how long fatigue lasts, if it affects concentration, and if it is accompanied by feelings of anxiety or depression. Patients may also report symptoms like daytime drowsiness, night time insomnia, quality of sleep, and observations from a significant other .
A medical professional can offer specific suggestions tailored to the individual. Most suggestions for dealing with fatigue fall into one of these categories:
- Adjusting medications
- Testing for and treating underlying medical issues
- Seeking therapy and emotional support
- Altering diet and exercise
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