Do you "crash" after a busy or stressful event, suffering from extreme exhaustion that keeps you confined to your bed or couch? Do these crashes last anywhere from a day to a week or even longer? If so, you're not alone and you may suffer from autoimmunity, a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body. (Which tissue depends on genetics and the type of autoimmunity you have.)
In fact, a recent survey of almost 8,000 autoimmune patients found the overwhelming majority listed bouts of debilitating fatigue as one of their most troubling symptoms.
Any number of things can cause a person with autoimmunity to "crash." They can include a very stressful event, such as a car accident or a move. Pleasant events can cause crashes because they are long or exhausting, such as a wedding, a trip out of town, or a work conference. Many people hold up fine during the event but crash when it's over. Exposure to certain foods or chemicals causes it in others.
Because such crashes are not commonplace or medically recognized, they cause anxiety and embarrassment. It's like having the flu or a bad cold, except without the symptoms. Sufferers worry others will think they are lazy, another stressor on top of stressing about all the things not getting done because you're in bed, barely able to function. Unfortunately, brain power bottoms out along with physical energy, which makes working at home from your laptop difficult if not impossible.
New survey brings light to autoimmune crashes
Fortunately, you may not have to make excuses for your inability to function forever as awareness about these bouts of debilitating fatigue grows. The survey polled those suffering from a variety of autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or autoimmunity affecting the brain or nervous system.
Overwhelming number of autoimmune patients report debilitating fatigue
The survey of patients with autoimmune disease, which was conducted by a patient advocacy group, revealed:
- 98 percent suffer from fatigue
- 89 percent said fatigue was a major issue
- 59 percent said fatigue was their most debilitating symptom
- Two-thirds said their fatigue was profound and prevented them from doing everyday tasks
- 75 percent said fatigue impacts their ability to work, 40 percent said it causes financial stress, and another one in five said it has cost them their jobs and they're on disability
- The overwhelming majority reported fatigue not only impacts their professional life, but also their romantic and family life and self-esteem.
- The overwhelming majority also say it has resulted in emotional distress, isolation, anxiety, and depression.
According to one patient, "It's difficult for other people to understand fatigue when it can't be seen. It's hard trying to get others, even doctors, to understand how very tired you are. One wonders if they think we are just mental cases or whiners."
Fortunately, using functional medicine approaches can significantly improve your health and reduce the frequency and severity of these bouts of fatigue. Ask my office for more information.