Controlling your IBD
Fatigue is one of the most troublesome symptoms of IBD. It greatly
limits work and social activities and often prevents you from
completing even basic everyday routines. It is also a major
contributing factor towards low mood in people with IBD. In some
people, abnormal fatigue may also be a symptom of a flare coming, so
can be used as a warning sign of an imminent flare-up.
What is fatigue?
To assess your level of fatigue and how it is interfering with your
life, one can use a self-assessment questionnaire called the ‘Brief
Fatigue Inventory’ (BFI). To download a printable PDF version of the
How to use the
BFI for self-assessment of fatigue
The BFI measures the severity of fatigue and interference caused by
fatigue using scales of 0–10. In addition, the level of fatigue
assessed by the BFI can be divided into categories of ‘mild’ (1–4),
‘moderate’ (5–6), and ‘severe’ (7–10) fatigue based on the amount of
fatigue-related interference with function. This is a standard scale
used in a number of diseases where fatigue is a co-morbidity.
Reasons for fatigue:
fatigue stems from a variety of causes and treating each in turn can
often make a big difference to your quality of life. For example,
fatigue associated with IBD can be due to: pain; anaemia (a
condition in which the red blood cell count, or haemoglobin level,
is less than normal, leading to tiredness); side-effects of
medicines; changes in mood; unhappiness or as a consequence of
active disease (e.g. a flare).
Managing your fatigue
Always discuss your fatigue with your
healthcare practitioner (see
Your IBD Consultation/ Purpose of consultation).
There are several simple strategies that you may find helpful in
dealing with your fatigue:
If you suspect that you may have depression, discuss this with
your healthcare practitioner, who can assess you, and advise you
of the best treatment.
Consider also lifestyle modifications: