Fatigue is a general term used to describe a lack of energy. When you are fatigued you have no low energy and are not motivated to do even day-to-day activities. Fatigue can be mild to serious caused by lifestyle choices such as lack of activities and poor diet. If you are fatigued get proper rest and eat nutritious food if not solved you need to do checkups. A doctor can identify the cause of your fatigue and help you in treatment and long-term solutions for it.
Reasons for fatigue
You can suffer from fatigue caused by several reasons:
- Lifestyle choices
- Physical illness
- Mental illness
Lifestyle choices are the primary reason for fatigue in most people:
- If you have are fatigued and skip meals then you may not be getting the required calories. Not having enough calories can lower blood sugar and decreasing your energy. You should eat healthy energy-boosting snacks if you feel sluggish like bananas, peanut butter, protein bars, dried fruit, and nuts.
- Carbs are a quick source of energy. It is quickly broken down into sugar for fuel. However too much of refined carbs is bad for health since it can rapidly raise your blood sugar. This produces large amount of insulin in your blood and cells that decreases spike making you feel exhausted. To keep blood sugar levels from spiking and reduce fatigue replace sugar and refined carbs with whole grain, nuts, vegetables and legumes.
- Fatigue can also be a sign of vitamin deficiency. This includes deficiency of vitamin B-12, iron, vitamin D, magnesium, or potassium. A blood test can help identify a deficiency and you can take vitamin supplements. You can also eat food high in vitamins like chicken, mushrooms, green leafy veggies and nuts which are high in vitamins and minerals.
- If you have food intolerances for gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and corn you can also feel lethargic. If you suspect of food intolerance you can test your for food sensitivities or test yourself by not eating those food.
- Not eating enough protein can also contribute to your fatigue. Consuming protein boosts your metabolic, aid in weight loss and prevent tiredness. Studies have found that high-protein diets tend to produce less fatigue for people active in sports. Fatigue also reduces branched-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein thus aim to consume a high-quality protein source at every meal to boost energy and reduce fatigue.
- Dehydration can also contribute to fatigue since our body needs water for all kinds of biochemical process within our body. It occurs when you don’t drink enough liquid to replace the water loss from our body. Even a mild dehydration can lead to fatigue and a decreased ability to concentrate. Common symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.
Late night work can be one of the reasons for daytime fatigue. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep and if you are not getting it on a consistent basis you may suffer health problems. Not getting enough sleep is one of the major causes of fatigue. Your body does many things while you sleep and as a result, in the morning you feel refreshed, alert, and energized.
Getting good quality sleep is crucial for reducing fatigue.
Practice good sleep hygiene:
- Proper sleep schedule is important since people who go to bed at the same time everyday are less fatigue and find less difficulty falling asleep.
- Set the room temperature at a comfortable level for sleeping.
- The room should be dark and quiet.
- Avoid screen time from mobile, television and computer that can affect sleep quality.
- Eat at least 2 hours before going to bed.
- Taking a warm bath or listening to some soothing music can reduce stress and make you fall sleep quickly.
- Taking a nap in the day may help boost energy levels and reduce fatigue.
- Being physically active in the day can help you get more deep sleep at night. So doing mild exercise can boost sleep quality.
Stress has a profound impact on your energy levels and fatigue. Stress and its response have a huge impact on your quality of life and excessive levels of stress are linked to fatigue.
No one can avoid all the stressful situations but properly managing stress may help one feel more energetic. Yoga and meditation can help you relieve stress and help you better able to cope with it.
When you are under stress your body is in fight-or-flight mode. This increases cortisol and adrenaline hormones which help you deal with the situations. For once in a while situation, these hormones with small doses are safe. However, chronic stress takes a huge toll on your body’s resources making you fatigued.
Some strategies to reduce stress and manage it:
Being overweight can contribute to tiredness since your body must work extra to do everyday tasks like climbing stairs or cleaning. Since most overweight people eat more unhealthy food like sugar, junk, and fatty food proving less nutritional value. Obese need more nutrition than normal people to work like normal healthy weight people so this further worsens the fatigue.
Since being overweight they tend to be less active which further exacerbates the situation. Exercise promotes good sleep, reduces stress, and burns calories that are needed by those suffering from obesity. So it’s very important to exercise if you are obese.
Follow the strategies to reduce weight and reduce chronic fatigue if you are obese:
- Count your calories and try to reduce portion size by measuring food.
- Eat more protein and less carbs, sugar and fatty products.
- Eat vegetables they are full of nutrition and less calories.
- Start with easy exercise like walking or cycling.
- Make few thin friends and eat with them to learn why are they skinny.
Lack of physical activity
Lack of physical activity also contributes to fatigue. If you have a desk job and your job needs to sit in front of a computer for a long time can adversely affect your health.
Most people without physical activity tend to snack a lot and without exercise they become overweight. With weak muscles, bad posture can cause back pain, neck pain, and headache which can be easily avoided by taking regular breaks and exercise.
If you do not have enough time for exercise then you can follow simple strategies to be more active like taking a walk evening and morning for 15-20 minutes, Do a few rounds of pushups, and bodyweight squats which can be done within 5 minutes.
Consuming too much caffeine or sugar
When paired together caffeine and sugar stimulate you with an energy boost which is favorable in the morning, but some people experience fatigue in the day. Furthermore, too much caffeine intake after noon may even contribute to sleepless nights which can contribute to fatigue the next day.
The body needs sugar for energy but too much refined sugar contributes to weight gain and the development of chronic diseases like diabetes. Your brain needs a healthy supply of sugar for optimal functioning and extreme fluctuation can be detrimental can lead to death.
Limit sugar and caffeine intake to reduce its adverse health impact. Try to get more natural sugar from fruits than from refined sources. Limit the consumption of sugary beverages containing high contents of caffeine like energy drinks.
Physical illness can is also the cause of fatigue.
Anemia is an illness caused by a lack of enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body’s tissues. A common cause of anemia is a deficiency of iron and vitamin B12.
It affects women more than men and is the leading cause of fatigue. People who do not eat enough meat and poultry are more at risk of anemia. A simple blood test can identify the anemia and by taking supplements or enough iron-rich diet, you can successfully cure it.
Viral infections like the flu or common cold often cause fatigue. When faced with infections, the body’s immune system releases cytokines which are proteins that communicate with other cells in your body. Pro-inflammatory cytokines ramp up inflammation in order to target and attack the invaders.
The initial infection and continued immune response cause inflammation. This needs large amounts of energy and resources causing fatigue, tiredness. Taking antivirals can often help you in relieving fatigue. For infections like flu or coronavirus taking the vaccine is the best way to protect your body from the debilitating effects of viral infection.
Also, precautions against infection are needed. Boosting overall immunity by eating healthy, having a healthy gut and moderate exercise is always recommended.
Fibromyalgia causes muscle pain and tenderness causing fatigue. Because of the muscles pain, some people do not get enough sleep at night leading to fatigue.
Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever may help in relieving the pain. There are various reasons for fibromyalgia however getting good sleep, eating a nutritious diet and regular exercise can be very beneficial to reduce the symptoms and triggers.
The thyroid is the gland responsible for releasing hormone that controls how you use energy. When the thyroid gland overproduces or underproduces the thyroxine hormone it affects energy levels.
Most people with an underactive thyroid are going to feel very tired. You may test your blood for thyroid problems. Deficiency of iodine and autoimmune diseases causes thyroid problems so you need proper treatment.
Extreme tiredness is also caused by cardiovascular diseases, which happen when it doesn’t pump the blood properly. Heart problems can make your fatigue worse when you do exercise. Your arms and legs may swell with shortness of breath. To avoid cardiovascular problems you need to eat a heart-healthy diet and do regular exercise.
Cancer can contribute to fatigue since some cancers release proteins called cytokines causing inflammation which can cause fatigue. Cancers increase your body’s need for energy and weaken your muscles, cause damage to internal organs, alters hormones release which contributes to fatigue.
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and immunotherapy also cause fatigue. Treatment may damage your immunity and healthy cells leading to fatigue. You may also develop anemia if your treatment destroys red blood cells. Chronic pain caused by cancer may result in less activity, poor diet, sleeplessness, and depression which may add to your fatigue.
So while undergoing cancer you should be optimistic, eat healthily, take a positive outlook and take the help of a doctor to get the best treatment.
Depression is one of the major causes of lack of energy and tiredness. If you’re experiencing depression you should take help from a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant that can reduce your symptoms. However, understanding the root cause of depression and its trigger may help you avoid the situation. Most depression triggers include work-related, relationships, and health. If you eat healthily, have a healthy relationship and outlook towards life, you can reduce its damaging effects. Regular exercise is one of the potent weapons against depression and fatigue.
Diabetes is one of the major causes of tiredness. When you are diabetic, your body needs more insulin which causes high blood sugar, leaving you feeling fatigued and irritable.
Most diabetic conditions can be managed if blood sugar is not allowed to spike. By eating whole food with less sugar and high nutrition. Exercise also increases insulin resistance which can sometimes reverse type 2 diabetes.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Fatigue is one of the common effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD reduces the oxygen levels in your body and makes it difficult for you to breathe fully, a lower level of oxygen weakens you further leading to fatigue and low energy. This consistent reduction in oxygen level reduces the muscle mass and may further lead to depression, depression that can worsen your fatigue. Eating a healthy diet with an active lifestyle can help you fight against COPD. Protecting self from infection is also important since lungs are already weak and infections like flu or coronavirus can be difficult for the body to handle. Regular exercise with breathing exercises can help your lungs.
Symptoms of fatigue
Fatigue can cause a number of other physical, mental, and emotional symptoms like:
- Chronic tiredness
- Aching muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed reflexes
- Mood swings and irritability
- Impaired hand-to-eye coordination
- Appetite loss
- Reduced immunity
- Blurry vision
- Memory problems
- Poor concentration
- loss of motivation.
As fatigue can present a vast range of symptoms and be caused by many different factors working in combination, diagnosis can be difficult. Your doctor may diagnose fatigue by doing a physical examination. Detailed questions about diet, physical activity, and general well-being may find a reason for your fatigue. Tests such as blood, urine, x-rays can give you insight into anemia, infection, or hormonal problems.
Fatigue is something you can feel and describe which itself is not a disease. Treating fatigue needs you to first understand the reason behind it. If fatigue is affecting your quality of life you need to take professional help. Most of the time, fatigue can be generally linked to your habits or routines. Fatigue is the response to physical exertion, poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep. In some cases, however, fatigue is caused by diseases and needs medical treatment. When fatigue is not relieved by sleep, good nutrition, or a low-stress environment you need a doctor to test and treat for the underlying conditions.
The ideal treatment plan for fatigue involves a combination of therapies like following, these following drugs can reduce the symptoms of fatigue:
- Pain killers
Viral infection can lead to fatigue and there is a decent amount of evidence to support this hypothesis. Viral infections like coronavirus, flu, herpes all cause chronic fatigue. If you think your fatigue is caused by viral infection taking antiviral drugs is the best option. Before taking antiviral therapy, ensure your doctor takes a detailed health history.
Out of all the medications, pain killers are one of the most popular drugs. The most common which included ibuprofen and aspirin. Opiate-based pain killers like morphine can also be taken if fatigue includes pain. Pain killers work by providing relief from inflammation and pain.
Using antidepressants as a treatment for fatigue is an option if depression is the cause of fatigue. Proper diagnosis is important to verify to confirm depression. Also taking proper guidance is important since depression medication will only reduce the symptoms not the root cause of depression. It will only help you tide the situation like failed relationships, work-related stress, and lack of sleep.
It’s long been thought that chronic fatigue is caused by hormonal imbalance. Steroids can be useful in chronic cases of fatigue if the underlying cause is hormonal imbalance. Undergoing proper tests to identify the cause and taking the treatment is necessary since external steroids are harmful to our body in large quantities.
Fatigue is one of the biggest culprits for reduced productivity at work and home. Often the most common reason is the poor lifestyle like bad diet habits, no activity, lack of sleep. People with poor immunity often get infected and this infection also makes them prone to fatigue. So following a healthy lifestyle is the best weapon against fatigue. Regular body checkups can help you find any problems with hormonal imbalance like thyroid or diseases like anemia, diabetes, COPD, heart problems. All in all, having a good level of energy free of fatigue is important for the quality of life.