PBC & Fatigue

Fatigue affecting people with liver disease

Why do people with liver disease become fatigued and what can they do about it?   One of the most common and debilitating symptoms among people with liver disease is fatigue. It is a symptom of all varieties of liver diseases and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis is one of those diseases. In some patients, fatigue begins several years after the diagnosis of liver disease is made. In others, it was the main reason for seeing their doctor.

In such individuals many visits are made to a variety of doctors in search of a cause of their extreme fatigue. Some people even seek psychiatric evaluation, as an accompanying symptom is often depression. Fatigue may occur at any time of day but is most common in the morning; many describe weakness and a lack of energy throughout the entire day. Their usual “pep” is now gone and even little tasks become more trying and harder to do.

A search for all other potential causes should be made, as some are easily treated. Thyroid disease and anemia’s commonly coexist with liver disease and can worsen any existing lethargy. Nutritional deficiencies as well as disturbances in fluid balance also contribute to exhaustion. Primary depression from causes other than liver disease lead to fatigue and may require pharmacological control. Finally, all medications that the patient is taking must be reviewed and the unnecessary ones eliminated.

If all of the above conditions are corrected, and fatigue continues to persist, there are a few simple measures that may be of help. A healthy, low fat, well balanced diet, cessation of smoking, alcohol intake in moderation, and a daily exercise routine are all essential lifestyle adjustments. The demands of a hectic job or home life may need to be modified, as an overworked, overwhelmed person even without liver disease may suffer from fatigue.

We have to learn how to adjust to a new lifestyle and only do what you are capable of doing when you feel well, but remember to take plenty of rest periods when you need them.