A higher rate of patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are reported to experience the symptom of fatigue compared with general population. Fatigue can impair quality of life of IBD patients by limiting their daily functioning.
However, this problem is poorly understood and addressed. Our aim was to investigate the impact of fatigue in IBD patients compared with controls, and to seek for relation between age and disease activity.
IBD patients aged between 16 and 75 years observed at our Unit from June 2011 through June 2012 were evaluated for fatigue. Patients were asked to fill the fatigue impact scale (FIS) questionnaire. A cohort of age- and sex-matched patients observed for other-than-IBD diseases were prospectively enrolled to act as controls. Patients diagnosed with malignancies were excluded from evaluation.
Each group included 16 patients, of whom half aged over 65 years.
Fatigue was more severe in IBD patients than in controls (p=0.02), irrespective of age and disease activity. IBD patients with moderate to severe disease activity showed worse fatigue compared with controls at any age (p<0.0001). Young IBD patients with low disease activity showed a trend toward worse FIS score when compared with old IBD counterparts (p=0.06).
IBD significantly impacted on fatigue in our series. Considering IBD patients in remission, younger patients may experience worse fatigue. Further studies are needed to explore the effects of fatigue on quality of life and the potential of appropriate intervention strategies.