What is Fatigue? Fatigue is a general feeling of exhaustion - a lack of energy and motivation that persists no matter how well rested you are. While some people suffering fatigue may feel drowsy, sleepiness is not synonymous with fatigue.
Diagnosis of Fatigue
A constant lack of energy, often combined with a lack of motivation and easily becoming exhausted are hallmarks of fatigue. Fatigue is always a symptom of a problem, not a diagnosis in and of itself.
Common Fatigue Symptoms
When suffering fatigue, a person will have a constant lack of energy no matter how much sleep they have had. Other fatigue symptoms may include a lack of motivation, a negatively affected emotional state, memory problems and difficulty concentrating or focusing.
Causes of Fatigue
There are many potential causes of fatigue typically broken into three categories.
1. Physical Illness Causes
Fatigue is a very common symptom of physical illness . Some examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue include:
- Addison’s disease and other hormone level problems
- Anorexia and other eating disorders
- Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Infections including cold, flu and COVID-19
- Liver and Kidney disease
- Sleep disorders including insomnia, hypersomnia or sleep apnea
- Thyroid problems - both Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can cause fatigue
2. Lifestyle Causes
A number of lifestyle and activity factors can also contribute to ongoing fatigue. These factors include:
- Alcohol - excessive or prolonged alcohol consumption
- Caffeine - excessive caffeine consumption can cause fatigue
- Diet - eating a diet with insufficient nutrients
- Drug use - many illicit drugs, especially stimulants. Prescribed drugs, including sedatives and antidepressants can also cause fatigue.
- Emotional turmoil - periods of extreme emotion such as grief can lead to fatigue
- Physical exertion - both excessive and insufficient physical exercise can lead to fatigue
- Sleep - a lack of sleep or too much sleep can lead to the same end
- Weight - being overweight or obese
3. Mental Health Causes
Many people living with mental health disorders may suffer from associated fatigue . Some common mental health issues leading to fatigue include:
Fatigue Self Care
As there are so many potential causes of fatigue there is no definitive self care methodology available . Maintaining a healthy sleep cycle and making sure you get enough rest and nutrition, or enrolling in a weight loss program can potentially help. Anyone feeling sustained fatigue should see a doctor to discover the underlying cause before trying to alleviate symptoms.
See a Doctor If:
You may be able to identify the root cause of your fatigue, such as the lack of sleep or not eating a healthy diet, but if you do feel fatigues for a sustained period it is recommended you see a doctor to have the underlying causes properly diagnosed.
You should immediately see a doctor if fatigue is felt in conjunction with one of the following:
- Bleeding - vomiting or passing blood
- Chest pain
- Headache - severe debilitating headaches
- Faintness or confusion
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Severe abdominal, back, neck or pelvic region
- Thoughts of suicide, self hard or violence towards others