10 causes of fatigue
Fatigue is a symptom of many health conditions.
1) Mental health issues
It can result from stress, bereavement and grief, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anxiety, moving home, boredom, and divorce. It can occur with clinical depression, either due to the depression itself, or because of associated problems, such as insomnia.
2) Endocrine and metabolic reasons
Conditions such as Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, electrolyte problems, diabetes, hypothyroidism, anemia, kidney disease, and liver disease can all lead to fatigue.
3) Drugs and medications
Some antidepressents, antihypertensives, statins, steroids, antihistamines, medication withdrawal, sedatives, and anti-anxiety drugs can cause drowsiness.
4) Heart and lung conditions
Pneumonia, arrhythmias, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), valvular heart disease, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure, among other heart and lung diseases, can cause fatigue.
5) Sleep problems
Working late, shift work, jet lag, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, and reflux esophagitis can lead to a lack of sleep and fatigue.
6) Chemicals and substances
Vitamin deficiencies, mineral deficiencies, poisoning, and consuming too many caffeinated or alcoholic beverages may make it harder to get to sleep, or stay asleep, especially if these are consumed too close to bedtime.
7) Various diseases, conditions, states, and treatments
cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, massive blood loss, and weakened immune systems can all cause fatigue.
Fatigue can also be a sign of infection. Some infections that cause tiredness include malaria, tuberculosis (TB), infectious mononucleasis also known as glandular fever, cytomegalovirus, HIV infection, flu, and hepatitis, among others.
8) Chronic pain
Patients with chronic pain often wake up tired, even after sleeping for a long time, especially if pain disrupts their sleep.The combination of pain and lack of sleep can cause persistent tiredness.
Some diseases and conditions where pain is the main symptom, such as fibromyalgia, are also linked to other conditions, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome These further worsen symptoms of fatigue.
9) Being overweight or underweight
Being overweight increases the risk of fatigue, for various reasons.These include having to carry more weight, and being more likely to have a condition where fatigue is a common symptom, such as diabetes and sleep apnea.
A person who is underweight may tire easily because they have less muscle strength.
10) Too much or too little activity
A person who feels tired may not exercise, and lack of exercise can cause further fatigue. Lack of exercise may eventually make it harder and more tiring to perform a physical chore.
Fatigue can also affect healthy individuals after intense mental or physical activity. Working or staying awake for long hours without a break, and especially driving, increase the risk of accidents. Statistics have shown that, among truck and bus drivers, longer hours lead to more accidents.
To treat fatigue successfully, it is necessary first to find the underlying cause.
This could be:
- anemia or low iron without anemia
- sleep apnea
- poorly controlled blood sugar
- underactive thyroid
- an infection
Appropriate treatment for the condition can help alleviate fatigue.
Yoga, CBT, and mindfulness for fatigue
Researchers have found, for example, that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) combined with graded exercise therapy (GET) can be an effective treatment for myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Another study found that symptoms of fatigue and depression fell in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who underwent mindfulness meditation training.
Yoga has been found to improve symptoms of fatigue and sleep quality in cancer survivors. The 4-week program included postures, meditation, breathing, and some other techniques.
It is important not to drive while sleepy. A survey carried out by the CDC found that around 1 in 25 drivers aged 18 years and above had fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
Overcoming persistent fatigue
Here are some tips for overcoming fatigue.
To practice good sleep hygiene:
- Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Set the bedroom temperature at a comfortable level, neither too cold nor too hot.
- Make sure the room is dark and quiet.
- Avoid screen time an hour before sleeping, as the light and sounds from a TV or computer can stimulate brain activity, affecting sleep quality.
- Avoid eating within 90 minutes or 2 hours before going to bed.
- As bedtime approaches, physically and mentally slow down.
Having a warm bath and listening to some soothing music can help you clear your mind of stressful and worrying thoughts before going to sleep.
Keeping a sleep diary may help.
Eating and drinking habits
Diet can affect how tired or energetic we feel.
Here are some tips:
- Eat three regular meals each day, at the same time each day.
- Avoid junk food and follow a well-balanced diet.
- Try to regulate your weight, either losing weight or eating more, as appropriate.
- Consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Avoid crash-dieting, as this can affect sleep.
- Drink alcoholic and caffeinated beverages in moderation, or not at all.
A moderate and well-balanced diet can lead to better health and better sleep.