People complain about being tired all the time and sometimes, we feel like we have no energy and no motivation. We usually know the reason why we are tired, especially when we have a cold or flu, and with taking a little time to rest and a few good nights’ sleep, we are able to get over it quickly. However, if you’re wondering why you are continually fatigued for a long period of time, do not feel motivated to do anything at all, struggle to do activities that you usually find easy, and you do not see any obvious reason for it, it might be a serious problem. This kind of ongoing fatigue can negatively impact your family life, make it hard for you to be productive at work and keep you from being social, and it can stop you from enjoying your life.
People often mistake sleepiness as fatigue. Although it’s true that poor sleep can cause fatigue, the two are actually very different. Sleepiness happens when you do not have enough good sleep. It can be a sign of medical conditions that interferes with sleep, such as sleep apnea or insomnia. Sleepiness is likely to be short term and generally can be solved by getting regular nighttime sleep. Nevertheless, poor sleep can also cause fatigue.
Fatigue is a feeling of constant tiredness and lack of energy; it involves a physical and mental state of being exceptionally tired. Although it is described as tiredness, it is not as simple as just feeling drowsy or sleepy. Indeed, it is similar to how you feel when you missed a lot of sleep or when you have flu, but with fatigue, you have unexplained and persistent exhaustion. When you suffer from fatigue, you often wake up feeling drained despite sleeping well. Fatigue is often linked to medical conditions or health problems. It can also be its own chronic condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
There are two types of fatigue: Physical and mental. They are not the same, but they can occur together. Physical fatigue is when a person finds it physically hard to do the things that they normally would find easy, while mental fatigue is when a person finds it harder to concentrate on things and have trouble staying awake at work. Physical exhaustion can lead to mental fatigue and vice versa.
Fatigue can be caused by a combination of factors, particularly unhealthy lifestyle, psychology, and medical conditions.
- Lifestyle: There is a wide range of lifestyle habits that can lead to fatigue. Lack of sleep or too much sleep are all common causes of tiredness. Typically, adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep, but there are many people who try to get by on fewer hours or stay in bed for too long. Having too much caffeine and alcohol can also be the cause as they slow down or stimulate the nervous system, which can disturb your normal sleep patterns. Additionally, other lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and poor diet can also cause and worsen fatigue.
- Psychological: Fatigue can result from psychological issues, and this factor is present in at least 50% of fatigue cases. It includes depression, anxiety, stress, grief, eating disorder, boredom, divorce, and drug abuse. Anxiety and stress overstimulate the body with a constant flood of adrenaline that exhausts the body.
- Medical: A number of diseases and treatments trigger fatigue. Cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, fibromyalgia, obesity, weakened the immune system, and anemia can cause fatigue. It can also be a sign of infection, such as malaria, infectious mononucleosis, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV (to name a few).
The main symptom of fatigue is extreme exhaustion. The signs can be physical, emotional, and mental. Most of the time, these symptoms can’t be felt right away. They may appear several hours after any activity. The most common signs are:
- Lack of motivation and apathy
- Constant headache, dizziness, or nausea
- Gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and constipation
- Irritability and moodiness
- Sensitivity to colder temperatures
- Muscle or joint pain
- Unexplained weight loss.
If you’re feeling any of the things stated above, and you’re not sure what caused them, it is best to make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may run some diagnostic tests that will help diagnose an underlying cause. These tests varied from urine tests, imaging scans, and blood tests.