causes of fatigue

Is Arthritis Zapping Your Energy?

If you’re feeling chronically tired, it could be due to arthritis pain disrupting your sleep or the fatigue that often accompanies inflammatory arthritis. Or it could be a result of one of these culprits that may be linked to your disease.

Depression and anxiety are well-known energy zappers, and both are more common in people with arthritis than in other people. Depression drains energy and can alter sleep patterns, and some medications used to treat it also can result in fatigue. Plus, anxiety and stress can cause nighttime thoughts that inhibit good sleep. “There are close connections between sleep and emotional states, although we don’t entirely understand the brain systems that underpin this relationship,” explains J. Todd Arnedt, PhD, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

Common arthritis medications can interrupt sleep and leave you feeling tired. Opioid pain relievers can increase the risk of central sleep apnea, in which a person repeatedly stops breathing while sleeping. Corticosteroids, often prescribed to treat inflammation, can leave you feeling agitated and make it tough to sleep. Insomnia also can be a side effect of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, sometimes taken for joint pain.

Anemia is a condition where a lower than normal number of red blood cells prevents tissues and organs from getting enough oxygen. This can lead to fatigue. People with inflammatory arthritis are at higher than average risk of developing anemia.

What you eat or drink – or fail to – can affect your energy. One study found even mild dehydration left healthy young women feeling fatigued. The need for eight cups of water a day is a myth, but you may need more fluids than you think if you live in a warm climate, are especially active or spend a lot of time outside. Binging on sugar or highly processed carbohydrates can lead to a “sugar crash,” leaving you feeling depleted. Eating healthier foods will supply the nutritional fuel to get you through the day.

Undiagnosed conditions, such as urinary tract infections, underactive thyroid, restless leg syndrome and teeth grinding, also can contribute to sleep problems.

Talk to your doctor if you feel chronically tired so you uncover the cause and develop a plan to restore your energy.


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