Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, lack of energy, or exhustion. Fatigue can be simply a result of a very busy lifestyle, or it may be the symptom of a serious medical condition. Fatigue is different from drowsiness which is feeling the need to sleep, while fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. Drowsiness and lethargy, a feeling of indifference or not caring about what happens, can be symptoms of fatigue.
If you are constantly feeling tired it is important for you to determine whether the symptoms are lack of sleep, or whether they are physical or muscular tiredness. In some cases, these two may overlap or cause each other.
Fatigue can be a normal and important response to physical exertion, boredom, emotional stress, or lack of sleep. When fatigue is not corrected by sleep, good nutrition, or a reduction in personal stress, it should be assessed by your doctor. Because fatigue is a common complaint, sometimes a potentially serious cause may be overlooked.
There are many possible physical and psychological causes of fatigue, including:
Infection – when you have an infection, the body uses extra energy to fight the infection, which can contribute to fatigue.
Medication – certain medications may also cause drowsiness or fatigue, including antihistamines for allergies, blood pressure medicines, sleeping pills, steroids, and diuretics.
Anemia – important because it may cause fatigue or shortness of breath, and may exacerbate or cause other medical problems, such as a heart condition.
Hypoglycemia – or low blood sugar almost always causes tiredness and can cause chronic tiredness.
Lack of physical exercise – The human body is designed for movement and it needs to move so that blood can circulate properly, muscles are fully utilized and the cells well oxygenated lack of exercise will lead to tissue fatigue and tiredness. Unfit people are more likely to feel tired as they simply do not get enough exercise. Whilst you may feel too exhausted to start any exercise, in time, regular exercise will make you feel less tired and give you more energy. Start out slowly, aiming to eventually do half an hour a day, even if you need to break this half hour into several shorter bursts.
Diet – People who have a well balanced diet tend to sleep better than those who do not. Crash dieting can cause you to have sleeping problems and can leave you feeling tired. Poor diet is likely to bring about a deficiency in important vitamins and minerals. If no cause can be found then take up regular exercise – in the fresh air if you can. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Caffeine – You should not consume alcohol and / or caffeine in the evenings. Caffeine makes us feel more awake, but when the effect runs out it can leave you suddenly deflated and very tired. Coffee, tea and some soft drinks contain caffeine. Gradually eliminate all caffeine and drinks over about a three week period an try to stay off caffeine completely for a month. You may be surprised by the improvement in your energy levels and stamina. You may find that stopping caffeine gives you headaches. If this happens, just reduce your caffeine in intake more slowly.
Stress – As a consequence of our busy and stressful modern lifestyles, most of us will at some time experience tiredness. However, when stress levels are too high they are commonly trigger fatigue – stress and worry are two emotions that most frequently cause tiredness. Stress, pain, anxiety, or depression can cause stress or result in sleep deprivation, causing increased chronic fatigue. If the stress is too great you may need to consider making some significant changes in your lifestyle, career, or general situation. Finding the right work-life balance is a key to beating fatigue completely and forever.