Fatigue & Autoimmune Diseases

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Signs & Symptoms   |   Causes   |   Treatment   |

Questions to Ask   |   Self-Care

Image of women who looks tired at desk.

Fatigue is being very tired, weary, and lacking energy. Often, it is a symptom of other health problems.

Signs & Symptoms

•  Feeling drained of energy.

•  Feeling exhausted.

•  Having a very hard time doing normal activities.

•  Having low motivation.

•  Feeling inadequate.

•  Having little desire for sex.


Causes that need medical care include anemia, depression, heart disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome (the fatigue lasts at least 6 months). Fatigue is also a common symptom of autoimmune diseases. These include diabetes, low thyroid, multiple sclerosis, and lupus (the systemic type).


Other physical causes include lack of leisure activities or lack of sleep; poor diet; side effects from allergies, chemical sensitivities or drug or alcohol addiction; being in hot, humid conditions; and prolonged effects of the flu or a bad cold.


Possible emotional causes are burnout, boredom, and a major life change (e.g., divorce, retirement, etc.).


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Information Exchange Forum (Co-Cure)



Treatment for fatigue depends on the cause(s). Keep track of any other symptoms that occur with the fatigue. This helps find out both physical and emotional causes.

Questions to Ask


If fatigue is due to a medical condition, follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s guidelines for rest, diet, medication, etc.

•  Get regular physical activity. Exercise can give you more energy, especially if you sit all day at work. Exercise can calm you, too.

•  Cool off. Working or playing in hot weather can drag you down. Rest in a cool, dry place as often as you can. Drink plenty of water.

•  Rest and relax. Get a good night’s sleep. Relax during the day if you can, too. Practice deep breathing or meditation.

•  Eat well. Eating too much and “crash dieting” are both hard on your body. Don’t skip breakfast. Limit high-fat and/or rich, sugary foods. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals and fruits and vegetables every day. Have 5 to 6 light meals a day, instead of 3 large ones. Take vitamin and mineral supplements, as advised by your doctor.

•  Change your routine. Do something interesting each day. If you do too much, plan for some quiet time.

•  Lighten your work load. Assign tasks to others when you can. Ask for help when you need it.

•  Do something for yourself. Plan time to do things that meet only your needs.

•  Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. Don’t use illegal drugs. These trigger fatigue.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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