What can I do to reduce my fatigue?


There are a range of actions you can take to reduce or manage your fatigue.

The first, most important, thing for you to do is to ask your doctor or IBD nurse to check that you do not have active IBD. This could be done by a blood test or stool test. If your IBD is active, then it needs treating to see if the fatigue improves as your IBD improves. This may mean changing the dose or type of medicine that you are on.

If your IBD is in remission, you could ask for a blood test to check for anemia, iron stores, vitamin B12, and other chemical or nutrient deficiencies. If you are iron deficient, your doctor may prescribe iron supplements.

Some of the drugs used to treat IBD can cause fatigue in some people. Your doctor or IBD nurse may be able to adjust the dose or find a possible alternative medicine.

There is currently little evidence on other possible ways of reducing IBD fatigue. However, in other conditions, such as cancer, exercise has been found to help reduce fatigue. It is possible that this may help IBD fatigue. You could try gradually increasing the amount of physical exercise that you do, while being careful not to overdo it. This can be simple activities, such as walking rather than catching the bus for short journeys, or going to gym sessions/ classes. It is important to get the balance right between doing too much and exhausting yourself, and not doing enough to make a difference.


Diet may also play a part in causing IBD fatigue, especially if you are not receiving the correct amount of calories and nutrients.

It is important to aim for a balanced nutritious diet, if possible. Some people find that during a flare-up they cannot tolerate certain foods. However, during remission it is important to try and eat as balanced and healthy a diet as possible.

For more information about this, see our section IBD and diet.

Foods containing carbohydrates are a major source of energy. There are two types of carbohydrate – simple and complex. Foods containing complex carbohydrates (such as cereals or porridge) can provide you with longer term energy. Foods containing simple carbohydrates (such as sugary sweets, cakes and biscuits) provide quick short-term bursts of energy.

There is some evidence that foods rich in omega 3 natural oils (such as oily fish) may help fatigue in other conditions. Some people have found vitamin and mineral supplements to be helpful. Check with your IBD team before taking any supplements.


Recent research has found that some people do find ways to help them manage their fatigue. Examples of things which people with IBD have found useful to reduce their fatigue include:

  • Frequent breaks and rest
  • Good quality sleep
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga or homeopathy
  • Physiotherapy and exercise
  • Flexible working hours
  • Planning ahead and reducing stress

In summary, learning more about your body, and what may trigger your fatigue can be helpful. Another key point to remember is to prioritise your time. It is particularly important to pace yourself. However, also remember that everybody is different, so what works for some people may not work for others.

Talk to your IBD specialist or nurse about your fatigue, and discuss things which may help you, rather than simply accepting it and missing out on any support that is available.

Check out this video from Crohn's and Colitis UK on the Top 10 tips for managing fatigue!