Fatigue is a natural condition that everyone can recognize. The experience of fatigue is individual and can have various explanations.
A common reason is that you have slept too little or had poor sleep quality. Being tired can also be associated with feeling sick, both physically and mentally. Longer term fatigue needs to be investigated if you are otherwise healthy.
All people experience and are affected by fatigue in different ways. Periods of fatigue are common – especially in the case of poor or too little sleep. You may find it difficult to concentrate, feel brain fatigue or experience bodily weakness.
However, if you feel tired all the time, there may be other explanations behind it. Fatigue can be associated with your life situation, psychological stress, infections or other illnesses.
Fatigue can have a very wide variety of causes:
- Sleep deprivation – poor sleep habits with too little coherent sleep
- Sleep apnea – involves snoring with respiration and may be associated with being overweight
- Anxiety disorder
- Stress – social or economic problems, high workload without time for recovery
- Deficiency diseases – iron deficiency, vitamin D or vitamin B12
- Some bowel diseases can also cause insufficient absorption of nutrients
- Gluten hypersensitivity (celiac disease)
- Bleeding – Menstruation or blood in the stool can cause symptoms of iron deficiency
- Hormonal changes – for example, thyroid function, diabetes, adrenal disease, sex hormone imbalance
- Respiratory-related problems, eg after a common respiratory infection
- COPD – a more serious form of breathlessness
- Heart failure – fatigue and shortness of breath when exerted
- Drug reactions
- Chronic fatigue syndrome – an uncommon disease condition with long-term fatigue (more than 6 months) and often along with illness, fever, muscle pain, palpitations and recurrent infections.
Fatigue is a condition in itself but it can also be one of several symptoms in a disease picture.
Lack of sleep desire, decreased reaction, eye redness, facial swelling, changes in skin color, nausea, vomiting, fainting, discomfort and nervousness are all possible symptoms of fatigue. Others include:
- Fatigue that does not stop after 5-7 hours of rest;
- Persistent illnesses;
- Unsuccessful attempts to fall asleep (especially in the early hours)
- Irritability, decreased attention, memory, concentration ability, emotional shift;
- Abdominal pain
Prevention and protection
If your fatigue is caused by a lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep, there are several things you can try to improve your sleep:
- Reflect on your life situation.
- Reduce stress and worry.
- Pay attention to physical and mental symptoms.
- Increase your physical activity during the day.
- Eat healthy food and enough minerals and vitamins.
- Decrease caffeine, nicotine or alcohol intake, especially before going to sleep.
- Avoid screens for a few hours before bedtime.
If you take medicines, your fatigue can be a side effect – discuss medication with your treating physician.
When examining fatigue, your doctor will ask you questions about how you experience your fatigue and whether you have physical or mental disorders. You can also describe how long you have been tired and when the fatigue comes. Furthermore, you can describe your social situation, work situation and possible medication.
There is a difference between transient fatigue that disappears with rest, long-term fatigue continuing over a month, and chronic fatigue that lasts over 6 months and cannot be fixed with rest.
Often various blood and urine tests are done to rule out vitamin or mineral deficiencies, hormonal effects or underlying diseases.
The treatment of fatigue varies and depends on your symptoms and medical history.
When to consult a doctor
Seek medical help if you feel that you are always tired and can’t sleep it away, or you sleep all the time without feeling rested and are unable to cope with your everyday life.
If you have been tired for several weeks in combination with a feeling of illness, weight loss and loss of appetite, contact a doctor immediately.
How APPOTEK can help
You can contact us at APPOTEK for help with fatigue. A nurse or physician will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms and medical history. After this, you may be prescribed treatment or referred for further examination.
Bear in mind that if your child has a problem, he or she should see a doctor.
Our psychologists can help with supportive conversations if you have been diagnosed or need someone to talk to.