My friend Sarah Schafer, a Sjögrens patient and an MD, wrote a message on the Sjögrens List Serve that I thought should reach a wider audience. Her thoughts on autoimmune fatigue are valuable and her personal experience with fatigue echo the experiences of so many Sjögrens warriors! I also have fatigue and mostly give up social activities in the evening so that I can work most of the day (not a quality-of-life choice I like). So I think I will look more closely at these tips from Sarah…
Sjögrens fatigue – and all autoimmune fatigue – is a clinical conundrum. No one really knows the cause, although there is some interesting research being done by a neuroscientist in Alabama who may shed some light on the underlying cause soon.
Fatigue is unrelated to blood tests (e.g.- sed rate, SS-A) etc, or even severe organ system involvement. The study I posted recently (article titled, “Fatigue in Sjögrens: A Paradoxical Response. Decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels tied to higher levels of fatigue”, by researcher Wan-Fai Ng from the UK) showed a surprising inverse correlation with fatigue and some inflammatory chemical levels in the blood. This is the opposite of what you would expect, which goes to show, we really don’t know. Fatigue is a prominent symptom in Sjögrens (70% disabling) and other autoimmune diseases.
Fatigue is my worst symptom. It is what most keeps me from having a better quality of life, despite many other serious symptoms.