Fatigue in IBD: epidemiology, pathophysiology and management
Fatigue is an important clinical problem in patients with IBD, affecting nearly 50% of patients in clinical remission and > 80% of those with active disease. The resulting decrease in quality of life and impaired work productivity and functioning contribute markedly to the societal costs of fatigue. However, despite the burden and effects of fatigue, little is known about its aetiology and pathophysiology, which impairs our ability to effectively treat this symptom. Here, we review the theories behind the development of fatigue in IBD and the role of contributing factors, including nutritional deficiency, inflammation and altered metabolism. We also explore the potential role of the gut microbiome in mediating fatigue and other psychological symptoms through the gut–brain axis. We discuss the efficacy of nutrient repletion and various psychological and pharmacological interventions on relieving fatigue in patients with IBD and expand the discussion to non-IBD-related fatigue when evidence exists. Finally, we present a therapeutic strategy for the management of fatigue in IBD and call for further mechanistic and clinical research into this poorly studied symptom.