What is fatigue?

Fatigue is when you feel extremely tired or exhausted. You may feel weak, and that can make it difficult for you to do the things you want to do. Fatigue is a common problem associated with JIA, especially during a flare.

Symptoms of fatigue 

Symptoms of fatigue vary from person to person. Fatigue may last a short or long time. It may happen randomly or occur at predictable times, such as when you have a JIA flare. Some people have ongoing problems with fatigue and it gets worse during a flare.

When you are fatigued, you may feel the following symptoms:

• Very tired with no energy. You may just want to sleep, especially during the day.
• Increased pain. Pain itself is very tiring. Being tired makes it especially difficult to cope with pain.
• Loss of control. Fatigue makes you feel helpless, as if you have little control over your life. When you feel this way, you may not be able to do the activities you normally would do during the course of the day.
• Loss of concentration.
• Irritability, which may put a strain on your relationships with friends and family.
• Depressed or sad.

Causes of fatigue

Many things can cause fatigue, such as the following:

• Medical conditions such as JIA, and other common illnesses.
• Depression or low mood.
• Stress or worrying.
• Joint and muscle pain.
• Overdoing activities.
• Poor sleep habits.
• Anaemia, which is a condition where the number and volume of red blood cells in your body are lower than normal. This is commonly found in JIA and can occasionally be caused by some of the medications used to treat it.
• Lack of physical activity.

In general, medications by themselves are not the cause of fatigue. However, some medications, such as the strong pain medications, can make you sleepy

Sleep problems

Many young people with JIA have sleep problems and this is sometimes a result of pain. Symptoms may include the following:

• Trouble falling asleep.
• Waking up often during the night.
• Trouble falling back to sleep after waking up during the night.
• Not feeling rested when you wake up in the morning.
• Daytime napping because of sleepiness and fatigue, resulting in a disruption of your normal sleep routine.

Managing fatigue

Knowing what causes fatigue and how it makes you feel will help you to manage it better. Your fatigue can be relieved using JIA medications and non-drug methods. It may not be possible to completely eliminate your fatigue. However, there are things you can do to reduce how tired you feel so that you can do the things you want to.

Your fatigue can be reduced using:

physical methods such as exercising regularly, conserving your energy, and getting enough sleep
coping strategies such as relaxation, distraction, and changing the way you think.

The following pages describe the various ways that you can manage fatigue.


Welcome to the Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program! In this section you will learn what to expect in the program, how to get started and how to set goals to better manage JIA.

JIA stands for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Find out what causes JIA, the different types of JIA and how it will affect you now and in the future.

Diagnosing JIA may be difficult as joint pain and swelling may be a part of many different illnesses. Diagnosis of JIA typically includes a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies.

Pain, stiffness, and tiredness or fatigue, are common symptoms of JIA. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with participating in school and sports activities, and enjoying time with your friends. Learn about pain, fatigue, and stiffness, how to manage symptoms and how these symptoms can cause stress.

There are several strategies you can use to help you cope with pain, stress, and sleep problems. These include relaxation, distraction, and managing your thoughts. In this section, learn more about how each of these strategies work.

When you know about your medications, you can talk to your doctor about them and make good choices for yourself. Find out about the different types of JIA medications, how they work, common side effects, and the importance of talking to your doctor about your medication plan.

Did you know that there are many other therapies that you can use to manage JIA symptoms? They can help to prevent complications so that you can do all the things you want to do. In this section, learn more about physical, occupational, and psychological therapies; maintaining healthy nutrition; surgical options for JIA, and more.

Your role in making decisions about your treatment plan is very important. Your health-care team and other members of your support system are available to help you make these decisions. In turn, they can help you to manage your JIA.

Whether you have JIA or not, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out how to stay healthy and active, learn about puberty and relationships, healthy body image, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sometime between the ages of 18 to 22, you most likely will transition from your pediatric rheumatologist to the adult health care setting. At that time, there are a number of things you, your family, and your health-care team can do to help make this change go smoothly.