Fatigue is common in people with HS. A 2010 study found that 40% of patients who took part reported clinical fatigue. Hidradenitis Suppurativa and fatigue unfortunately often go hand in hand.
According to Healthline, fatigue is “an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy.” However, fatigue is more than feeling tired. It is a whole-body and mind experience that isn’t eased by rest or sleep. Fatigue includes low mood and lack of motivation. It becomes a problem when it interferes with your days. In other words, when it prevents you from living the life, you want to live.
Fatigue may be a regular part of your condition. Or it can indicate another problem. In this article, we will discuss why you might feel fatigued. As well as what you can do about it.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Fatigue
The first reason is the prodromal phase. A prodromal phase is a set of symptoms that occur before a flare-up. It is like an early warning sign. In HS, this might be skin sensitivity or fatigue. In a 2014 study, researchers found that 32% of HS patients had prodromal fatigue. Other symptoms respondents reported were headaches, nausea, redness and itching.
The second reason is sleep disturbance. Lesions that are sore or itchy may be waking you up. This could be preventing you from getting a full night’s sleep. Dressings can also come loose in the middle of the night. And adhesives can damage the skin, causing irritation. Without a covering, sores may leak. If your sleep is disturbed during the night, you will feel tired during the day.
The third possibility is infection. If any of your lesions have gotten infected, you might feel run down. This is because your body is working harder to fight the infection. And more resources are going to your immune system. As well as that some antibiotics can cause fatigue as a side effect. Although, fatigue is considered a rare side-effect
The fourth reason is your mental health. HS is challenging. So, it would be no surprise if you feel down or anxious. A 2019 review paper found a 17% prevalence rate of Depression is HS patients. Anxiety had a rate of just under 5%. Mental ill-health, sadly, accompanies many chronic illnesses. But support is available.
For some, fatigue is a normal part of their condition. But it could indicate something more serious. Because fatigue is a symptom of many conditions, it is often overlooked. If you notice changes in your symptoms, you must let your doctor know. They are best placed to tell if your symptoms are typical. If not, they can refer you for further tests.
If you are worried about your mental health, you should talk to your GP. Receiving a diagnosis is a stressful event. As is dealing with chronic pain. So, there is no shame in needing someone to help you process it. Your GP can answer any questions you might have, which may ease your mind. Or they can help you find someone to talk to.
If you think your lesions are keeping you up at night, then it might be time to examine your wound care. Proper wound care can prevent infection and reduce discomfort. If you would like to know more, you can watch the HidraWear wound care webinar here.
Try to maintain your routine, it is essential to your well-being. If you have morning and evening routines, continue with them. If you exercise, keep it up but adjust it to suit your body. For example, if you run, walk for a few days. And maintain a healthy diet. The most important thing to keep doing the things you enjoy.
Mental fatigue can be frustrating and lonely. You may not feel like socialising, and find you are cancelling your plans. But isolating yourself will do you no good. Talk to someone about it. Let your friends know you are up for hanging out, but you need to take it easy. They will understand.
Fatigue is a frustrating problem but not an insurmountable one. Many people with HS and other conditions experience fatigue, so you are not alone. Monitoring your symptoms and seeking support are the best ways to get you back on your feet. Stay in control of your days by maintaining your routines. And make sure you have some fun too.
About the Author
Shannon Sweeney is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa.