Fatigue from juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

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Learn about fatigue, a common problem associated with JIA, including its causes and how it may affect you in your day-to-day life.

Key points

  • You may experience fatigue randomly or during a flare, or you may experience ongoing fatigue that gets worse during a flare.
  • Some things that can cause fatigue are JIA, joint and muscle pain and overdoing activities.
  • Symptoms of fatigue vary from person to person. Knowing how it makes you feel will help you manage it better.

Fatigue is when you feel extremely tired or exhausted. You may feel weak, and that can make it difficult for you to do the things you want to do. Fatigue is a common problem associated with JIA, especially during a flare.

Symptoms of fatigue

Symptoms of fatigue vary from person to person. Fatigue may last a short or long time. It may happen randomly or occur at predictable times, such as when you have a JIA flare. Some people have ongoing problems with fatigue and it gets worse during a flare.

When you are fatigued, you may feel the following symptoms:

  • Very tired with no energy. You may just want to sleep, especially during the day.
  • Increased pain. Pain itself is very tiring. Being tired makes it especially difficult to cope with pain.
  • Loss of control. Fatigue makes you feel helpless, as if you have little control over your life. When you feel this way, you may not be able to do the activities you normally would do during the course of the day.
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Irritability, which may put a strain on your relationships with friends and family.
  • Depressed or sad.

Causes of fatigue

Many things can cause fatigue, such as the following:

  • Medical conditions such as JIA, and other common illnesses.
  • Depression or low mood.
  • Stress or worrying.
  • Joint and muscle pain.
  • Overdoing activities.
  • Poor sleep habits.
  • Anemia, which is a condition where the number and volume of red blood cells in your body are lower than normal. This is commonly found in JIA and can occasionally be caused by some of the medications used to treat it.
  • Lack of physical activity.

In general, medications by themselves are not the cause of fatigue. However, some medications, such as the strong pain medications, can make you sleepy

Sleep problems

Many young people with JIA have sleep problems and this is sometimes a result of of pain. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Trouble falling asleep.
  • Waking up often during the night.
  • Trouble falling back to sleep after waking up during the night.
  • Not feeling rested when you wake up in the morning.
  • Daytime napping because of sleepiness and fatigue, resulting in a disruption of your normal sleep routine.

Managing fatigue

Knowing what causes fatigue and how it makes you feel will help you to manage it better. Your fatigue can be relieved using JIA medications and non-drug methods. It may not be possible to completely eliminate your fatigue. However, there are things you can do to reduce how tired you feel so that you can do the things you want to.

Your fatigue can be reduced using:

The following pages describe the various ways that you can manage fatigue.

Last updated: January 31st 2017