Do you always feel tired? Are you having trouble staying awake while watching your favourite TV shows? Many people know what it’s like to be tired, especially when they have a cold or a viral infection. But when you suffer from a constant lack of energy and ongoing fatigue, it may be time to check with your doctor.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is a lingering tiredness that is constant and limiting. With fatigue, you have unexplained, persistent, and relapsing exhaustion. It’s similar to how you feel when you have missed a lot of sleep.
If you have chronic fatigue, or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), you may wake in the morning feeling as though you have not slept. You may be unable to function at work or be productive at home. You may be too exhausted even to manage your daily affairs.
Allergies, hay fever and fatigue
Allergic rhinitis is a common cause of chronic fatigue. But allergic rhinitis often can be easily treated and self-managed.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will assess your symptoms. Your doctor will also determine through a detailed history or testing whether your allergies are triggered by pollens, insects, molds, weather changes, or something else. One way to reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis including fatigue is to take steps to avoid the offending allergen. In addition, proper medication can help with symptoms.
Anemia and fatigue
Anemia is a common blood condition. For women in their childbearing years, anemia is a common cause of fatigue. This is especially true for women who have heavy menstrual cycles, uterine fibroid tumors, or uterine polyps. Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough red blood cells. It can be due to blood loss or decreased production of red blood cells. It can also be the result of hemorrhoids or ulcers or cancer.
Drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin can also lead to problems and bleeding. Other causes of anemia include a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or Vitamin B12. Chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease can also cause anemia.
To confirm a diagnosis of anemia, your doctor will give you a blood test. If iron deficiency is the cause of your fatigue, treatment may include iron supplements.
Iron-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, and red meat can also be added to your diet to help relieve symptoms. Vitamin C with meals or with iron supplements can help the iron to be better absorbed and improve your symptoms.
Depression, anxiety and fatigue
Symptoms include sadness, feeling hopeless, worthless, and helpless and fatigue.
Sometimes, depression or anxiety is at the root of chronic fatigue. Depression affects twice as many women as men and often runs in families. It commonly begins between the ages of 15 and 30. Women can get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter, with feelings of fatigue and sadness. Major depression is also one part of bipolar disorder. With depression, you might be in a depressed mood most of the day. You may have little interest in normal activities. Along with feelings of fatigue, you may eat too much or too little, over- or under-sleep, feel hopeless and worthless, and have other serious symptoms. Anxiety symptoms may include agitation, difficulty sleeping, excessive worrying, being on alert most of the time, feeling of impending doom and nervousness.
Fibromyalgia and fatigue
Symptoms include chronic fatigue, deep muscle pain, painful tender points, sleep problems, and anxiety.
Fibromyalgia is one of the more common causes of chronic fatigue and musculoskeletal pain, especially in women. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are considered separate but related disorders. They share a common symptom as severe fatigue that greatly interferes with people’s lives.
With fibromyalgia, you may feel that no matter how long you sleep, it’s never restful. And you may feel as if you are always fatigued during daytime hours. Your sleep may be interrupted by frequent waking. Yet, you may not remember any sleep disruptions the next day.
Constant daytime fatigue with fibromyalgia often results in diminished exercise that causes a decline in physical fitness. It can also cause mood-related problems. The best way to offset these effects is to try to exercise more. Exercise has a tremendous beneficial effect on sleep, mood, and fatigue. As you become accustomed to the added physical activity, you can increase your time in the pool or gym. Set up a regular time for exercise, but watch overdoing it to avoid added fatigue.
Food intolerance and fatigue
Although food is supposed to give you energy, new medical research suggests that hidden food intolerances or allergies can do the opposite. In fact, fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance or food allergy.
Ask your doctor about the elimination diet. This is a diet in which you cut out certain foods that cause a variety of symptoms, including sleepiness within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them. You can also talk to your doctor about a food allergy test or invest in a home test such as ALCAT — which may help you identify the offending foods.
Heart disease and fatigue
If you find yourself becoming exhausted after an activity that used to be easy for example, walking up the steps, it may be time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. If your fatigue is related to your heart, medication or treatment procedures can usually help correct the problem, reduce the fatigue, and restore your energy.
Rheumatoid arthritis and fatigue
Symptoms are fatigue, morning stiffness, joint pain, and inflamed joints. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a type of inflammatory arthritis, is another cause of excessive fatigue. Because joint damage can result in disability, early and aggressive treatment is the best approach for rheumatoid arthritis.
Type 2 Diabetes and fatigue
Symptoms include extreme fatigue, increased thirst and hunger, increased urination, unusual weight loss. The incidence of Type 2 diabetes is escalating in children and adults. If you have symptoms of type 2 diabetes, call your doctor and ask to be tested. While finding out you have diabetes may be frightening, Type 2 diabetes can be self-managed with guidance from your doctor.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes may include losing excess weight, increasing physical activity, maintaining strict blood glucose control, taking diabetes medications such as insulin or other drugs, eating a low glycemic index carbohydrate diet, or through a low-carbohydrate diet.
Hypothyroidism and fatigue
Symptoms are extreme fatigue, sluggishness, depression, cold intolerance and weight gain.
The problem may be a slow or underactive thyroid. This is known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. It helps set the rate of metabolism, which is the rate at which the body uses energy.
Blood tests known as T3 and T4 will detect thyroid hormones. If these hormones are low, synthetic hormones medication can bring you up to speed and you should begin to feel better fairly rapidly.