Fatigue due to HIV infection

Fatigue and tiredness are common problems among people with HIV infection. In our article, you will learn about the possible causes of this illness, as well as what can be done to cope with fatigue caused by HIV infection.

HIV as a cause of increased fatigue

HIV is a chronic infection that has a profound effect on the human immune system. The infected body, in turn, requires a lot of energy to fight the human immunodeficiency virus. Therefore, increased fatigue and fatigue with HIV are a consequence of the fact that the body expends a lot of energy to fight the disease.

Most often, HIV fatigue occurs in people with a high viral load. In this case, taking medications will help manage fatigue, since the goal of treating HIV infection is to reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to undetectable levels . People taking antiretroviral therapy report increased energy and productivity after starting HIV treatment.

Causes of fatigue in HIV infection

Low levels of vitamins and minerals

Fatigue can be caused by a lack of certain vitamins and minerals in the body of an HIV-infected person. In this case, taking vitamin complexes, as well as a balanced diet, will help cope with fatigue and fatigue. However, in order to minimize HIV fatigue through dietary changes and vitamin supplements, it is recommended to consult a doctor and undergo any necessary tests.

Also, fatigue in HIV can be caused by anemia, including iron deficiency anemia (lack of vitamins B12 or B9). In this case, the doctor will prescribe a blood test and subsequent treatment.

Insomnia, stress and depression

Fatigue and increased fatigue can occur due to problems with sleep. In turn, sleep problems or insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety or depression caused by an HIV diagnosis.  

To cope with insomnia, try to independently understand the causes of stress and work on eliminating them. If insomnia has been going on for a long time, and you are unable to fight it on your own, the best solution would be to consult a psychologist. Support from friends and family can also be very helpful in dealing with this problem.

Restoring activity and rest patterns, playing sports and exercising can also help combat HIV fatigue caused by lack of sleep.

Medical causes of fatigue

With HIV infection, even a minor illness, such as a cold, can cause a serious blow to the body and lead to increased fatigue. Some of the most serious infections, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, can lead to very severe fatigue and weakness that only go away after receiving proper treatment for these infections.

Also, low levels of hormones, especially testosterone, can cause fatigue. If tests show low testosterone levels, your doctor will prescribe the necessary treatment. Sometimes, steroids can be used to increase hormone levels as a source of additional energy.

Thyroid problems are a common cause of fatigue. Due to being underweight or, conversely, being overweight, an HIV-infected person may feel sluggish and tired.

Treatment of fatigue in HIV infection

Although antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV infection help increase energy levels, some of them can also cause fatigue. Fatigue, insomnia, and sleep disturbances are possible side effects of some HIV medications . Side effects are most common in the first few weeks after starting HIV treatment. They usually decrease or disappear completely over time.

Sleep disturbances, fatigue, or anemia (a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells) can also be side effects of other medications and are common side effects of hepatitis C treatment with Ribavirin plus Interferon.

The following recommendations may help combat fatigue caused by HIV infection:

  • eat a healthy and balanced diet;
  • exercise regularly;
  • get enough sleep;
  • maintain a healthy weight;
  • drink enough water;
  • reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages;
  • relax;
  • talk about your feelings with friends, family or other people you trust.

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