Fatigue in PBC

  • Fatigue is the most common symptom in PBC patients, occurring in approximately 80%.
  • Cause in PBC patients is not known.
  • Is the first symptom noticed by majority of PBC patients.
  • Is considered worst symptom in almost 1/2 of PBC patients.
  • Has a significant impact on PBC patient's quality of life.
  • May cause sleep disturbance and depression.
  • Has severely disabling effects in approximately 25% of PBC patients.
  • Can occur in any disease stage of PBC.
  • Does not seem to correlate with the disease stage or laboratory tests.
  • Many PBC patients who complain of severe fatigue show an accelerated decrease in muscle function.

Questions and Answers

David Bernstein, M.D. Answers Question On Fatigue

Chief, Division of Gastroenterology
North Shore University Hospital
Manhasset, NY

People always say "I'm tired too," and it's hard to explain our fatigue. How would the doctors suggest we explain PBC fatigue to others?


The symptoms of fatigue are about the same regardless of the cause.

The difference in PBC is that fatigue is not situational nor is it generally relieved by rest and sleep. Most people are tired from either lack of sleep, stress or situational or true depression. Once people are well rested, stress is relieved or depression resolved, fatigue improves.

This is not true in PBC as the source of fatigue is different. The fatigue is a result of the disease and is progressive. It tends not to get better. Only treatment of the disease will improve fatigue and currently, there are no good therapies which improve the fatigue associated with PBC.

Page Last Updated January 18th, 2014