Diabetes, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are referred to as energy disorders. All of these health conditions are related to nerves and neuropathy. Learn more about the connection between these three disorders and what you can do about them.

  • chronic fatigueSmall nerve neuropathy is associated with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and diabetes. Nerve damage can lead to a variety of symptoms and sensory complaints, including dizziness, dry mouth, dry eyes, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, abnormal sweating, and difficulty urinating and erectile dysfunction. People with fibromyalgia often experience pain while those with diabetes might have numbness. This nerve damage is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Therapies are decided by your health care team based on the underlying cause of neuropathy.
  • Beriberi is one of the diseases often associated with neuropathies. Beriberi results from a deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine). This vitamin is involved with neurological functions and glucose and metabolism functions. Inflammation is also linked with CFS, diabetes and fibromyalgia. Talk to your health care team about eating a well-balanced diet and whether nutritional supplements are recommended.
  • When diabetes is untreated or a person does not follow the self-management plan suggested by a doctor, blood sugar levels can become too high. As a result, people feel fatigued. When insulin does not properly move glucose into your cells, people experience a lack of energy. This can lead to spectrum disorder diabetes, which may include fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome. Avoid sugary or processed foods that can cause blood sugar spikes. Test your blood sugar regularly. Take medications as directed and stay on the schedule recommended by your health care team.
  • Diabetes, fibromyalgia and CFS are all autoimmune disorders that cause feelings of tiredness and lack of energy. Carrying extra weight can make a person feel even more lethargic. Losing just 10 pounds can make a difference. Exercise for a half hour each day to maintain a healthier weight and energy boost. A healthy diet and regular exercise also promote better cardiovascular well-being. Use a blood pressure cuff at home to keep track of your heart health. Report irregularities to your health care team. All three health conditions are associated with low heart rate variability (HRV). Your doctor might recommend consulting with a cardiologist.
  • Tiredness, muscle pain and depression can make it feel impossible to move. Talk to your doctor about working with a dietitian, diabetes nurse educator, physical therapist and/or physical trainer. With help, you can get on the road to a proper diet and regular exercise. If feelings of depression or helplessness continue for more than a few weeks, ask your doctor about seeing a counselor to discuss them.
  • People with neuropathy, high blood sugar, diabetes, ongoing pain and/or cardiovascular disease are more likely to have high levels of fatigue. Some also experience reduced oxygen uptake during and after exercise. This can lead to high or low blood sugar levels. Test your blood sugar before and after exercising. Start slowly, by walking halfway around the block, and build up your distance and speed gradually to avoid any dramatic fluctuations. Water exercise is often recommended for those with extreme pain because it puts less strain on the bones and muscles.
  • Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medication to ease the symptoms of diabetes, CFS and/or fibromyalgia. Other causes of fatigue might be considered, such as thyroid problems and anemia, as well as insomnia and sleep apnea. It is important to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to reduce fatigue and feel better. People with these conditions might be advised to quit smoking and cut back on alcohol and caffeine, or avoid them altogether.
  • Reducing daily stress can help. Yoga, meditation and Pilates, as well as stretching every day, can minimize stress, ease pain and improve sleep patterns. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, can reduce pain and help people to sleep. Social support, hobbies and enjoying life all make a positive difference.

Learning more about the connections between chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and diabetes can help you reduce symptoms and stop further health issues in their tracks. Lifestyle changes and regular consultations with your health care team are essential. With ongoing care and treatment, you can beat feelings of fatigue and enjoy a healthier, more active lifestyle.