Tiredness is a pretty normal part of life. At the end of a long day of work, being with the family, driving around your city, working out at the gym, and taking care of your daily “to-do’s”, it’s normal to be ready for a good night’s sleep. It’s fairly easy to fall asleep at the end of a day like this.
But fatigue goes beyond just the tiredness that comes with a busy life. Fatigue is a bone-deep weariness, one that refuses to fade even after a good night’s sleep or a midday nap. Sadly, it’s becoming a lot more common a complaint these days. And it’s not limited to just seniors or those with health issues. Even adults in the prime of their lives are struggling with fatigue.
Fatigue is a condition that is referred to as being exhausted, tired, and weak. It can be caused by a multitude of factors, both physical and mental. This makes it challenging to accurately diagnose. With fatigue there is no specific gender, age group, racial or ethnic group. All are at risk. But, studies are showing that the group of individuals that are experiencing the most of 40 to 50 years olds. It also shows that 4 out of 5 are women.
Symptoms of Fatigue
Some of the more common symptoms of fatigue include:
- Exhaustion that doesn’t go away after sleep
- Lack of energy and strength, even when you should be fresh and alert
- Concentration, focus, and memory problems
- Lack of motivation to carry out your activities of daily life
- You wake up feeling tired, not refreshed like you should
- Lack of desire to work out or exercise
Sound familiar? If you are suffering from more than one of these symptoms, you may be dealing with fatigue.
But what’s behind the problem? What causes us to feel fatigue? Not surprisingly, there are MANY causes of fatigue.
Some of the short-term causes of fatigue include:
- Stress — Stress causes an increase in the production of adrenaline and cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormones. Chronic stress keeps the levels of those hormones elevated, keeping our bodies in a perpetual state of “emergency”.
- Medications — Prescriptions and OTC meds can cause fatigue, making you feel weak and tired.
- Sleep disorders — Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleeping disorders can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, making you feel more tired when you wake up in the morning.
- Caffeine — Drinking too much coffee or drinking it too late at night can interfere with your ability to sleep. Do this for too long, and your sleep patterns will be thrown off, leading to fatigue.
- Eating disorders — Overeating can be just as bad for you as starving yourself. Inadequate nutrition can lead to sleeping problems and fatigue.
Fatigue is no joke, even in the short-term.
However, if you’ve experienced chronic fatigue (for more than 3-6 months), there are a few more serious causes behind the problem:
- Anemia — Iron deficiencies prevent your body from producing the red blood cells needed to transport oxygen, nutrients, and energy.
- Heart disease — If your heart is always working double-time to cope with high blood pressure, narrowed arteries, or other heart conditions, it will use a lot more energy.
- Fibromyalgia — This severe aching of your joints and muscles is a chronic condition that is extremely exhausting and potentially debilitating.
- Cancer — The chemo and radiation treatments can be exhausting, and may leave you weak and fatigued.
- Autoimmune disorders — With autoimmune disorders, your body is basically attacking itself, so it’s always on “high alert”. The unrelenting immune activity in your body saps your energy and leaves you tired.
- Depression — One of the primary side effects of depression is fatigue, but it’s often accompanied by insomnia and oversleeping problems.
The treatment of fatigue will greatly depend on how severe the problem is. Treatment could be as simple as a lifestyle change through supplements, exercise or your diet.
If the condition is long term it may take medications, along with lifestyle changes. Both short and long term fatigue may take going through a number of tests to determine the best treatment for your case.
Talking with your Doctor, sharing your how you are feeling and what your syptoms are is important. Your Doctor will evaluate what the best treatment plan is for your individual situation.