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What Causes Crohn's/Colitis Fatigue And What To Do About It

Written by
Brittany Rogers, MS RDN
September 19, 2022

Are you always exhausted? If so, you're not alone. Up to 72% of people with active IBD experience fatigue compared with 47% of those in remission (1). 

What may be causing your fatigue?

According to a recent study, the most common risk factors for fatigue included:

  • Sleep disturbances (such as nighttime bowel movements or pain)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anemia (a condition where your red blood cells don’t carry enough oxygen to your body)

Other factors that may contribute to fatigue include:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Infections
  • Certain medications
  • Other medical conditions (such as IBS, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome)
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Dehydration
  • A lack of exercise

How can you feel less tired with Crohn’s/colitis?

  • Ask your doctor to check your labs regularly (here’s a free guide on what labs to ask for: link to starter kit)
  • Work with a dietitian with experience treating IBD (like us!) to make sure you’re getting the right amount and type of nutrients to optimize your energy levels
  • Practice stress and anxiety management (like meditation, yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness)
  • If you’re feeling depressed, ask your doctor or dietitian for a referral to a gut-specific therapist
  • Exercise regularly - even short, low-intensity exercise is be beneficial
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Prioritize sleep - implement sleep hygiene techniques such as setting a consistent bedtime and avoiding large meals or alcohol before bed and work with your doctor to identify the root cause of your sleep disturbances

References

  1. D'Silva A, Fox DE, Nasser Y, Vallance JK, Quinn RR, Ronksley PE, Raman M. Prevalence and Risk Factors for Fatigue in Adults With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 May;20(5):995-1009.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2021.06.034. Epub 2021 Jun 30. PMID: 34216824.
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