Can my ulcerative colitis cause extreme fatigue?

Jorge A. Gilbert, MD
Ulcerative colitis can cause fatigue through several factors. Ulcerative colitis causes ulcers in the intestine which can bleed and cause the person to become anemic. Anemia can cause fatigue because of a lack of red blood cells which produce oxygen. Less oxygen means the body has to work harder to keep up with the same amount of work it used to do with normal oxygen. Ulcerative colitis can also cause nausea and decreased appetite, which can both lead to fatigue because the body isn't getting enough nutrients to fuel itself. Finally, patients with ulcerative colitis can be fatigued because of a lack of absorption vitamin B12 which is an essential nutrient in the formation of healthy red blood cells. Coupled with anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause extreme fatigue. Treatment of fatigue in ulcerative colitis patients includes reducing ulcerative colitis flares (to reduce blood loss), and taking vitamin B12 shots if the patient is vitamin B12 deficient. Contact one of our doctors for more information.
Yes, as with any chronic disease, ulcerative colitis can cause extreme fatigue. Ulcerative colitis is a "colitis" or inflammation of the intestines, specifically the large intestine and rectum. Patients with this disease can have sores or ulcers in their large intestine which can ooze blood cause bloody diarrhea. The loss of blood can cause anemia which is the #1 reason patients with ulcerative colitis can be so fatigued. Ulcerative colitis also causes abdominal cramps and fever which can also cause fatigue. It is like body is fighting a battle in the intestine and the "soldier" cells are working so hard that the army, your body, gets tired. This war causes inflammation which is why the treatments for this disease are medications that reduce inflammation.

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