Understanding the Causes of Fatigue [Video]

  • Fatigue is a feeling of constant tiredness and having no energy and motivation to do things.
  • It can be a symptom of another condition or disease.
  • While fatigue is common, chronic fatigue syndrome may lead to other serious conditions.

What is fatigue?

Tiredness, exhaustion, lack of energy, and motivation are the common terms for fatigue. It can be experienced physically, mentally, or both. Fatigue can be a result of stress, a change in sleeping patterns, and a heavy workload. Everyone can experience fatigue, and it is the most common reason why people visit a physician. A sufficient amount of rest and lifestyle change can resolve fatigue. But when fatigue is accompanied by other physical symptoms and does not resolve after two weeks of additional rest and lifestyle change, there may be an underlying cause.

A professor of medicine at Belgium’s Ghent University, Dr. Tom Declercq, recommends having additional rest when you feel fatigued because sleep can restore energy levels. If your condition persists, he suggests visiting a physician who can help you diagnose your condition thoroughly. With some physical and laboratory tests, doctors can help you identify the reason behind your prolonged fatigue.

Moreover, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is when fatigue becomes profound and prolonged, extending up to six months without a known cause. CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease. The root cause of CFS is unclear, and there is still no diagnostic test for it. When you have chronic fatigue syndrome, Declercq advises you to engage in exercises rather than stay in a chair. 

The Underlying Causes of Fatigue

While fatigue is common, it can also serve as a warning sign of different serious health problems, including:

  • Anemia – fatigue with dizziness
  • Infection – fatigue accompanied by fever
  • Heart Disease – fatigue in combination with labored breathing
  • Anxiety Disorder or Depression – sadness and nervousness are also experienced together with fatigue.
  • Cancer – the fatigue that comes on suddenly, is persistent and combined with night sweats and unexplained weight loss.

To manage fatigue, the quality and quantity of sleep should improve. Avoid factors that could affect sleep quality and quantity, like using electronic gadgets up to late nights and dozing off with a pet in bed. Drinking alcohol before bedtime should also be avoided because it can worsen the quality of sleep. Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, but it can also disrupt circadian rhythms and affect your sleep pattern. 

Source: Reader’s Digest


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