Apr 7, 2020

Five Ideas for Combating Fatigue When you have Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in various areas of the body, but most often affects the exocrine glands that produce tears and salvia.

Patients with this disorder often complain of dry eyes and mouth, but unfortunately, there is much more to this disease than dryness. Because it is an autoimmune disorder, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells and tissues. This causes damage to parts of the body, such as joints, thyroids, kidneys, lungs, skin, and nerves.

In addition to dry tissue and damage to organs, patients also have to fight severe fatigue. This fatigue can be divided into two categories — physical and mental. Studies indicate that Sjogren’s patients experience more physical fatigue than mental fatigue. These patients also report intense daytime sleepiness, an indicator of physical exhaustion. Some who suffer may experience severe symptoms, while others have mild symptoms. Regardless of the varying degrees, patients must be able to manage their symptoms and live a comfortable life. Here are five ideas for combatting the severe fatigue that often accompanies Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Stay hydrated.

Dehydration can contribute to mental and physical fatigue. Make sure you are well-hydrated at all times by drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day. Track your intake on your phone or in a journal until it becomes a daily habit. You can also eat juicy fruits, water-based vegetables, or drink fruit and veggie-packed smoothies. Not only are they water-rich, but they are full of many healthy vitamins and minerals too! Some ideas of fruits and vegetables to keep you hydrated include:

  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bell peppers
  • Peaches
  • Celery
  • Oranges

Eat well.

Implementing an anti-inflammatory diet is an excellent start in reducing fatigue from Sjogren’s Syndrome. Ensure your diet consists of food with high fiber, healthy fats, and spices such as ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Choose colorful whole fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Create recipes that are focused on lean proteins such as fish, chicken, or turkey. Avoid red meats, processed foods, heavy sugars, and fried foods.

[Read more about eating well while coping with chronic illnesses]

Get physically active.

Light exercise can help in maintaining weight, managing stress, and beating fatigue. Studies show that physical activity can improve strength, diminish fatigue, and reduce pain and depression that accompany most autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

recent clinical study involving a walking program showed that after 16 weeks, the program significantly “enhanced the cardiorespiratory fitness of patients in the training group, compared with the control group. Furthermore, the reductions in fatigue experienced by those in the training group were significantly associated with improvements in their cardiorespiratory fitness as well as in physical and mental components of their quality of life.”

Get mentally active.

Sjogren’s Syndrome patients often complain of mental fatigue or “brain fog.” Brain fog impairs focus, causes fuzzy concentration, and contributes to difficulty in problem-solving. Keep your stress levels low, and give your brain a workout with crosswords, puzzles, reading, adult coloring books, or online brain games. Focus on challenging your thinking so you can sharpen your focus.

Get adequate amounts of sleep.

Poor sleep and sleep habits are obvious causes of fatigue. However, the pain and dryness that accompany Sjogren’s Syndrome can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Minimize dryness in your throat, eyes, skin, and other organs before heading to bed and use a humidifier if needed. Follow regular bedtime habits every night to promote quality sleep. Establish a nightly routine that lets your body know its bedtime, go to bed and wake up at the same time every morning and night, and ban all electronics. Implementing a consistent routine will help your body develop an internal clock, which will help you sleep longer and better.

While there is not one universal treatment for Sjogren’s Syndrome, doctors at Carolina Arthritis are well trained in lessening symptoms and improving quality of life. At Carolina Arthritis, we believe that it is imperative for our patients to fully understand their diagnosis and be comfortable with the path of treatment we have chosen with them.

If you feel you or a loved one may be suffering from Sjogren’s Syndrome, contact us right away to schedule an appointment.