Tips for Battling Fatigue When You Have IBD

Do you feel tired all the time? Many healthy adults complain that they feel tired during the day. In the Western world, most of us work too many hours and don't get enough rest, leaving us overtired. A chronic condition such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can sap your energy further, leaving you feeling fatigued. The good news is that there are many changes that you can make to your lifestyle that may help with your energy level. Some of the suggestions below will be easy to make, and others will take some time, but they are all worth the effort.


Get Enough Quality Sleep

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Not getting enough sleep will obviously leave you tired, but you don't just need "enough" sleep—you need quality sleep. In order to get quality sleep, you need to practice better sleep hygiene, which includes going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding caffeine before bedtime, and keeping lighting low during the night. This is a challenge for many adults, but by following these steps and a few others, you can greatly increase the quality of your sleep and consequently feel more energized in the morning.


Try (Doctor Approved) Exercise

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It may seem counter-intuitive (won't exercise just make you more tired?), but exercise can improve your energy level in many ways. Regular exercise can help you sleep better at night, and over time, it can actually help increase your energy levels during the day. The key is to do an appropriate type and amount of exercise for your body and to be consistent about it.


Stop a Flare-Up

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This might seem like it goes without saying, but you should always work to stop a flare-up as soon as you can. It's tempting to hope that you'll bounce out of an IBD flare-up on your own, or that it won't get any worse, but the chances of either of these things happening aren't very good. Instead, when you start to feel that flare-up coming on, get help immediately, and get those symptoms under control before they drag you down and leave you fatigued. 


Prevent IBD Flare-Ups

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It's still uncertain exactly what causes a flare-up, although there are some theories: a few potential flare-up triggers include smoking cigarettes (particularly for those with Crohn's disease), taking NSAIDs, and a change in seasons. If you know your triggers, avoiding them is obviously the best policy. If you're still unsure of what might trigger your IBD, discuss a plan of action with your gastroenterologist.


Manage Stress

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In many cases, calming stress is easier said than done—but there are as many ways to deal with stress as there are types. You can't avoid all stress, but you can work towards avoiding stressful situations and people. Your own stress-reduction plan will be highly individualized and should include activities that you enjoy. Stress relief can be anything from taking a break with a cup of tea to participating in an exercise program. The important part is to make your plan one that will work for you. Work with your healthcare team to find the best stress-relief tactics for your lifestyle.


Manage Related Conditions

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IBD comes with a laundry list of related conditions. It's important, of course, to carefully manage any condition that you may have—but this is especially true when you have multiple diseases. It's possible that the IBD can affect your other conditions, and vice-versa. Anemia is a good example of this because if you're experiencing blood loss, anemia might be the result. Anemia might require treatment, but treating the underlying IBD to stop the bleeding is also going to be key. Ensure that your gastroenterologist and your other doctors are aware of any conditions you have, and always have a list of all your medications handy. 


Watch Your Diet

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A healthy diet is important for everyone; the only problem is that most of us don't eat a healthy diet. People with IBD tend to avoid certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Avoiding foods that may cause diarrhea is important, but proper nutrition is an essential part of any treatment plan. You might not know exactly which foods will disagree with you, but you probably have a good idea of what foods are—and are not—part of a healthy diet. Staying on top of your diet is a difficult job, but it's worth the effort.


Drink Water

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We're bombarded with advertisements for all types of beverages, but plain old water continues to be the best drink for better health. If you have diarrhea, you must replace all the liquid you're losing, and drinking enough water for your body will go a long way towards meeting that goal. But even if you are feeling well, water is still the best choice for a beverage. Try keeping a glass of water near you and sipping from it throughout the day. If you have concerns about becoming dehydrated or are unable to keep water down because you are vomiting, contact your doctor.


Get Enough Vitamins and Minerals

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IBD can leave your body unable to absorb certain vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have Crohn's disease of the small intestine (ileitis). If you aren't eating a wide variety of foods, that can also play a role in reducing the amount of vitamins and minerals your body is taking in. Certain medications can also prevent your body from absorbing vitamins, so check with your doctor about what supplementation would be appropriate for you.


Nurture Yourself

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As you make your journey to better health, one thing that you can't lose sight of is yourself and your personality. Keep up with your interests and hobbies, especially those that don't involve your health. If you find your favorite activities are more challenging during a difficult time with your health, you may decide to explore some new pastimes. The important thing is to have a diversion that engages you, and that you look forward to doing.

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