Crohn's disease symptom: Is fatigue common?

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Crohn's disease symptom: Is fatigue common?

Question

Is fatigue a common Crohn's disease symptom? What can be done about it?

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Answer

Crohn's disease is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed, causing severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. Fatigue is a fairly common Crohn's disease symptom. Treatment of fatigue depends on the underlying cause.

The most likely causes of Crohn's-related fatigue include:

  • Crohn's flare. You may experience fatigue and lethargy as your body fights the disease. During a Crohn's flare, medication to treat the active disease may help ease your fatigue.
  • Medication side effect. Certain drugs used to treat Crohn's disease — such as methotrexate (Methotrexate, Trexall, Rheumatrex), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and corticosteroids — may cause fatigue. If medication is the cause, your doctor may recommend switching medications.
  • Anemia. Blood loss or nutritional deficiencies associated with Crohn's disease may lead to anemia, which can leave you fatigued. Your doctor may prescribe iron supplements to correct the anemia and perhaps other medication to treat the active disease.
  • Depression. Chronic diseases are often accompanied by feelings of sadness or depression. In turn, depression can cause fatigue. Depression is often treated with antidepressants or mental health therapy.

To fight fatigue, it's also helpful to include physical activity in your daily routine, eat healthy foods and get adequate sleep. Be sure to share your concerns about fatigue with your doctor. He or she can search for an underlying cause and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Last Updated: 2010-10-08
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