Tiredness is a common thing among people of all ages and can be caused by factors varying from the obvious lack of sleep to what we eat or drink, or serious medical conditions.
While not unusual, when tiredness becomes constant and persistent with no apparent reasons and it starts affecting our everyday life, it might hide a serious health issue.
What is fatigue and what causes it to appear?
Fatigue for many patients can be difficult to explain, being described in words such as: lethargy, exhaustion and lack of concentration. If for most people, fatigue passes after a short vacation, a good night's sleep and a balanced intake of nutrients, for some, this condition lasts for a long time and must be treated before it has a final impact on one’s well-being.
Before categorizing prolonged fatigue as a passing symptom due to office hustle or the children’s needs, make sure that:
· You have a balanced diet that can maintain a high level of energy
· You are not dealing with any vitamin deficiencies
· You get enough sleep at night
· You do not weigh more than it is recommended for your age and height
· You do not have a sedentary lifestyle
· You are not a person subject to high stress
· You do not suffer from depression
· The medication you are taking does not cause fatigue
When caused by the above factors, fatigue can be treated by having a balanced lifestyle and a healthy diet.
Excessive fatigue – an alarming signal
If your diet, physical activity and healthy choices do not help alleviating fatigue symptoms and do not eliminate fatigue, it is possible that you are diagnosed with some of the common diseases that hide behind this condition, such as:
· Being overweight or underweight
· Not getting enough sleep, either caused by bad sleeping habits or sleep disorders such as insomnia
· Coping with daily stress
· Unhealthy diet
· Chronic illness
· Cardiological problems
· Multiple sclerosis
Excessive fatigue is the way in which the body signals a series of irregularities in the body. Therefore, it is advisable to talk to a specialized doctor to determine the cause and course of treatment – if the excessive fatigue is caused by a health problem or it has caused a condition. Another cause of constant fatigue regardless of positive changes in life is chronic fatigue.
Mental fatigue – worse than you think
Mental exhaustion causes physical and mental symptoms, with a direct impact on behavior. Symptoms of mental fatigue may differ from one person to another and may appear gradually, usually during times of excessive stress. Mental fatigue is often referred to as burnout, although it is not an officially recognized term.
Mental fatigue symptoms:
· Emotional signs:
o Anxiety and depression
o Exaggerated pessimism
o Apathy or detachment
o Lack of motivation
o Difficulty in concentration and lack of productivity
· Physical signs
o Gaining or losing weight
o Whole body pain
o Digestive problems
o Chronic fatigue
o Changes in appetite
Dizziness and fatigue conditions:
Sometimes, dizziness or fatigue are a passing event, other times they are recurrent. Untreated, these symptoms can cause falls or even serious accidents. Regardless of the situation, these conditions can indicate a number of serious health problems, such as:
· Chronic fatigue syndrome
· Iron deficiency anemia
· Low blood pressure
Chronic fatigue – how do you know you suffer from this condition?
CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue or exhaustion, which cannot be cured by a sleeping schedule and cannot be associated to a basic medical condition. Although some aspects of this disease are still uncertain, there are theories that include viral infection, psychological stress or a combination of factors.
The main symptoms of CFS that you should pay attention to are:
- Loss of memory and concentration
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Muscle pain
- Frequent headaches
- Agitated sleep
· Frequent headaches in the neck area
· Sensitive and swollen lymph nodes in the neck area and armpits
· Dizziness or fatigue
CFS can also be caused by a series of health factors and, while some people may simply have a predisposition for the disorder, others might find triggers in viral infections, issues of the immune system or hormonal imbalances.
Factors that can increase the risk of chronic fatigue syndrome include age (CFS can often occur at ages 40 to 50), sex (women are more prone to develop CFS) or stress.
According to specialists at the Mayo Clinic, undiagnosed CFS can be responsible for complications such as depression, social isolation, lifestyle restrictions and increased work absences.
The correct diagnosis is made when the patient understands his/her condition and does not confuse symptoms. For example, fatigue and drowsiness are two factors that can be easily confused.
Drowsiness or fatigue – how do you correctly identify the condition?
Drowsiness is an unusual state of sleep that occurs during the day and is characteristic to the period preceding sleep. The difference between fatigue and drowsiness is given by the fact that the first one is alleviated by resting and inactivity, and the second one is aggravated by rest and inactivity. Moreover, drowsiness is even more dangerous as it is characterized by a lack of intermittent awareness, which is not caused by fatigue.
Excessive drowsiness – what health problems can it hide?
Sometimes, rainy days can affect people’s condition and influence them to the point of feeling less productive and strongly drowsy. However, excessive drowsiness is a serious problem that affects a person's life both personally and professionally. Causes of excessive drowsiness are:
· Insufficient sleep
· Changes in the sleep schedule
· Obesity and lack of physical activity
· Alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
· Drug treatments that cause drowsiness
Excessive drowsiness can hide some health problems that the patient is unaware of or that are easily ignored, such as:
· Restless legs syndrome
· Sleep disorders such as apnea
However, do not hesitate to contact your doctor as soon as you notice persistent or excessive tiredness that you can’t seem to justify.