Talking about… fatigue

The symptoms of Crohn’s and Colitis vary enormously. But one thing almost everyone has to deal with is chronic exhaustion. Almost 90% of people with active Crohn’s or Colitis say they experience fatigue.


The hardest part for me is having to tell people what I have, and the days where I have to make excuses because I can’t attend things because of my anxiety is going through the roof, or because I just can't pull myself out of bed due to fatigue. It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep I get, I’m still absolutely shattered once I’ve woke up!

Hayley, living with Crohn's Disease

I think a good way to explain fatigue to people is that, even after a good night’s sleep, your body is still physically exhausted. Although rest can help, a good sleep doesn’t always take it away!

Juliet, living with Crohn's Disease
Abi Image

It’s more than just being tired, the best way I can describe it is like being hit in the face with a wave of heaviness, my brain gets foggy, my mood changes. and I become quiet and withdrawn and my body aches like I’ve done a heavy workout.

Abi, living with Crohn's Disease

Talking tips

‘Tired’ just doesn’t cut it

To most people, ‘tired’ means being up a bit too late the night before or hitting it a bit too hard at the gym. This doesn’t come close to the relentless, overpowering exhaustion of Crohn’s or Colitis. So, you might want to think of another way to describe it – there’s plenty of inspiration above!

Listen to your body

Tell your friends and family that you’re struggling at the moment but hope to see them soon. Try not to just ‘power through’ in silence – let people know that it’ll only make things worse if you push yourself too hard.

Plan pit-stops

Chronic fatigue doesn’t have to mean chronic boredom. Just make sure you factor in time to rest between activities. Let people know that, if you’re out and about on Saturday, you may need to make Sunday a duvet day and let your body recover.

Sidestep stress

Sometimes, stress and anxiety can drain our energy just like physical exertion. So try to spot the things that make you stressed and, where possible, avoid or minimise them. Easier said than done, we know. But like most things, self-awareness is half the battle – and if you can talk about your concerns and worries, they’re likely to feel more manageable.

Useful information/links

  • Check out the Crohn’s & Colitis UK information sheet: Fatigue and IBD
  • Measure your fatigue levels using the Fatigue in IBD questionnaire.
  • Read about our research into what causes fatigue in IBD.