What is Fatigue?
Fatigue refers to a feeling of constant overall tiredness and lack of energy. Fatigue is more than feeling sleepy and lethargic. When fatigued, a person would have no motivation to get out of bed in the morning and no energy to do their daily tasks.
There are two main types of fatigue: physical and mental fatigue.
Fatigue can cause a large number of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. These fatigue symptoms include:
- Chronic tiredness or sleepiness
- Sore or aching muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed reflexes and responses
- Impaired decision-making and judgment
- Impaired hand-to-eye coordination
- Appetite loss
- Blurry vision
- Poor concentration and attention span
- Low motivation
Who is at risk?
A person is at risk of fatigue if they,
- Have an underlying medical condition
- Have a sedentary lifestyle or an extremely busy lifestyle
- Have an unhealthy or unregularized diet
- Are dealing with mental health issues
Fatigue causes can be linked to various conditions and factors. Potential reasons for fatigue include:
- Mental Health Issues: Fatigue can be a result of mental health issues like stress, grief, eating disorders, anxiety, emotional exhaustion, depression, or associated problems such as insomnia.
- Medical conditions: several medical conditions like anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight or underweight, massive blood loss, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart diseases, kidney diseases, cancer, and cancer treatments, etc. can serve as a reason for fatigue. Fatigue can also be a symptom of infections like malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, flu, hepatitis, etc.
- Lifestyle factors: Certain unhealthy lifestyle factors and choices can lead to fatigue. Physical exertion or lack of physical activity, consuming alcohol or illicit drugs on a regular basis, consuming too much caffeine, not eating a nutritious diet, working late shifts, lack of sleep, etc. are some of the unhealthy lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue.
- Drugs and Medications: Certain drugs and medications such as steroids, sedatives, some antidepressants, anxiety medications, etc. can cause fatigue as a side-effect. In some cases, medicine withdrawal can also lead to fatigue.
How is fatigue diagnosed?
Fatigue diagnosis can be difficult as the reason for fatigue can range from a wide variety of conditions and factors.
In order to make a diagnosis, a fatigue doctor may ask certain questions related to:
- the quality of fatigue experienced by a patient
- the patterns on fatigue
- the person’s emotional and stress level
- lifestyle habits of the patient
- other medical conditions that the patient might have
- any medications are taken by the patient
- the quality of the patient’s sleep.
The rheumatologist may do a physical examination to look for any signs of illness.
Certain diagnostic tests may help in diagnosing the underlying cause of fatigue. The basic fatigue test may include blood tests, urine tests, imaging scans, and mental health questionnaires.
The doctor may also ask for a sleep study. Keeping a record or journaling the number of hours the person sleeps each night and the quality of their sleep can help in the diagnosis.
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How is fatigue treated?
Effective fatigue treatment depends on the underlying cause of fatigue.
If fatigue is a result of a serious illness, resolving the illness with proper treatment, and working towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lead to fatigue cure.
If fatigue is caused by lifestyle factors, working towards dropping bad lifestyle habits and inculcating a healthy lifestyle can resolve the issue.
Doctors also advise oral medicine for fatigue as a solicited cure.
How can fatigue be prevented?
Fatigue prevention can be done by practicing a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid fatigue risk factors. Some of the measures that can be taken to bring about changes and create a healthy lifestyle, full of vitality are:
- Practice good sleep hygiene: Getting good quality sleep is an important part of managing fatigue. Make sure you get enough sleep, go to bed, and wake at the same time every day. Additionally, having a bedtime routine, making sure the bedroom is cooler, dark, and quiet close to bedtime and avoiding screen time for an hour before going to bed can help in getting quality sleep.
- Healthy eating habits: Eat a nutritious diet and avoid junk food or food that has high sugar levels. Stay hydrated throughout the day and avoid consuming caffeine during the afternoon and evening.
- Physical activity: Make sure you get some exercise regularly as it helps with improving sleep and keeping the muscles healthy and strong.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation can help in reducing the levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue and improve the overall mental health and quality of life.