The symptoms most people relate to RA (and other autoimmune disorders) include swelling of the joints and pain. One thing people may not know or be familiar with as a symptom is fatigue. Unless you're someone who has lived with chronic pain, it's really difficult to understand how intense this fatigue can be. It can feel like you have the flu, your whole body is tired and you just feel rundown overall. Getting extra sleep does not help, and sometimes it's really difficult to sleep because of the pain so that just makes it worse.
Some Strategies to Fight Fatigue
Fuel your body with the right foods: Opt for whole and nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Omega 3 fatty acids (found in nuts and fish) have been shown to decrease inflammation. Carbs are your body's first energy source, so make sure you get adequate carbs and choose whole grain options. Eat smaller, healthy meals throughout the day so you don't feel sluggish after a big meal.
Drink plenty of water: Being well hydrated helps transport nutrients throughout your body. Fatigue can also be a symptom of dehydration, so make sure you drink water regularly throughout the day.
Exercise regularly: Obviously, during a flare-up this may be challenging, so listen to your body. Start small even if it's just incorporating getting more steps daily or stretching regularly. Research shows that doing an aerobic activity (an activity that gets your heart rate up) can help decrease fatigue and lower stress levels.
Have good sleep hygiene: Getting a good night's sleep can be a challenge but make sure you have routines in place to set you up for success with this. Try not to nap during the day and instead take breaks as needed. Make sure you power down electronics before bed and maybe do something to help you relax before bed. Check out my post on sleep for more tips.
Talk to your doctor: If you already have healthy habits in place and you're still feeling wiped, it may be time to have a discussion with your doctor. Fatigue can be an indicator that your inflammation is out of control or that there are other issues.