In our busy lives, it’s natural to feel tired all the time. Some days are more tiring than others. But if you find yourself exhausted too quickly, dragging yourself to get out of the bed every day, or simply feeling sluggish to finish even the most basic daily job, there is more to it than your usual tiredness. It can be a medical condition.
Fatigue is a common symptom found in many adults. When you’re fatigued, you have no motivation and stamina to work, go out or socialize. Let’s explore what can be causing your symptoms.
What Is Fatigue?
Fatigue is persistent tiredness that leaves you feeling exhausted in managing your daily activities. Being tired all the time is frustrating. It can be physical, mental, or sometimes both, and it’s a symptom that is difficult to describe. It’s similar to how you feel when you have the flu or have missed a lot of sleep. People often address it as lethargy, feeling sluggish, or burned out.
If you have chronic fatigue or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), you may wake in the morning feeling like you have not slept.
For some people, fatigue gets better over a while on its own, with some practical and straightforward lifestyle changes. But, if your relapsing exhaustion is still unexplained, make an appointment to visit to your primary care physician. Your doctor will take a careful look at your medical history and work to diagnose the cause of your fatigue.
Common Causes of Fatigue:
Lack of Sleep
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults need around seven to eight hours of sleep to be well-rested and carry on with their daily routines.
But with a sedentary lifestyle, late working hours, and high-stress levels, many people have insomnia (sleep-deprivation). It ultimately takes a toll on your energy levels and mental strength, making you feel sick and tired most of the time. In addition to inadequate sleep, sleeping at the wrong time can reduce your energy.
While lack of sleep isn’t a severe medical condition, it can be life-threatening if left untreated. Over 7% of all severe accidents at the workplace are due to lack of sleep. (Pathak, 2020)
Your medical professional can help you treat it with prescribed medications and lifestyle changes.
Poor Nutrition/Food Habits
Eating too little or skipping meals can create problems. You may not get sufficient calories to maintain your energy levels, causing fatigue. Long gaps between meals can also cause your blood sugar to drop, thereby lowering your energy.
Eating junk or “empty calorie” food at odd hours can contribute to fatigue. One recommendation is to eat breakfast every day. Include protein and complex carbohydrates in every meal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes eating fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and drinking adequate water.
Under or Over Weight
Your body has to work hard twice as much to do everyday activities if you are underweight or overweight. Obesity is severe weight gain arising from combined causes or individual factors such as food habits, behavior, or genetics. It can result in constant fatigue and mood swings.
Similarly, extremely underweight people may also feel tired all the time. Eating disorders, chronic illness, and an overactive thyroid can cause weight loss, excessive tiredness, and fatigue.
Women in the first 12 weeks, pregnancy can also experience an energy depletion, making you feel overly tired.
Pre-existing Physical Conditions
Many diseases and disorders trigger fatigue, namely diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a dysfunctional immune system, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Unrelenting exhaustion can also be a symptom of viral infection like flu, malaria, hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis, and other diseases.
Anemia is a common blood condition in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells. It affects the day-to-day functioning of the body resulting in fatigue. Women who have heavy menstrual cycles, uterine fibroid tumors, or uterine polyps may also be anemic which can also cause fatigue. As for women in their childbearing years, anemia is a common cause of fatigue.
Mental Health Conditions
Depression symptoms that last at least two continuous weeks and affect your daily life can turn into clinical depression resulting in excessive tiredness. These symptoms can also stem from other mental health issues like an eating disorder, anxiety, stress, emotional turbulence, and sudden life events. If any of these things are happening in your life and depression is becoming constant, we recommend connecting with your primary care physician and/or a mental health professional for further evaluation.
Being sedentary can also be one of the biggest reasons for your fatigue. A lot of people complain that they are too tired to exercise.
Lack of physical movement or exercise causes deconditioning of the body’s musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. It also depresses mood, all of which lead to fatigue. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, adults should strive to exercise for at least 2 hours in a week combining moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. It’s time to get off the couch and feel better.
There is a multitude of reasons for feeling persistently tired. It’s critical to rule out medical conditions first, as fatigue often accompanies long-term illness. Keep your doctor informed at all times and seek immediate medical attention if your unexplained tiredness doesn’t improve. Early and active management of fatigue in primary care may prevent progression to chronicity.
You may get disheartened as you wait for answers to what is happening, but don’t give up. In some cases, the diagnosis can take time. Knowing the root cause to your fatigue will help improve your quality of life and detect other ailments that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Pathak, N. (2020, October 13). Daytime Fatigue: The Cost of Insomnia. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/daytime-fatigue