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Fatigue

Fatigue is characterized by a feeling of tiredness and weakness. A person suffering from it lacks motivation and energy. Fatigue is often also referred to as tiredness, lethargy, exhaustion and listlessness. Research shows that more than 10% of people globally experience signs of fatigue. It is more common in females than males. In the United States, one in every five Americans experiences severe symptoms of persistent fatigue, which disrupts their daily routine.

Fatigue can be divided into two types: physical fatigue and mental.

Physical Fatigue

A person experiencing physical fatigue is unable to work up to their normal level of physical activity. Carrying out normal daily activities like carrying grocery bags or climbing a few stairs starts feeling like a huge task. There is a general feeling of weakness and a paucity of strength.

Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue is when a person feels drowsy and sleepy most of the time and is unable to concentrate on any work. If the symptoms are severe, the person may have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. It can even result in a decreased level of consciousness.

When physical fatigue and mental fatigue occur in an individual, it can drastically reduce their productivity.

What are the signs of fatigue?

The most common and prominent sign of fatigue is the feeling of exhaustion after any activity. A person suffering from it will not feel refreshed even after getting adequate rest. Those suffering from chronic fatigue experience a lack of motivation, energy and enthusiasm. The signs can be physical, emotional or mental in nature. Here are a few possible signs of fatigue:

  • Chronic tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Body and muscle ache
  • Severe lack of motivation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Bloating
  • Indecisiveness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Moodiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Slower responses to stimuli
  • Constant feeling of lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath

Since these symptoms are very common in numerous other ailments, many people mistake it for something else. Only after some time, do they realize that their productivity has significantly reduced.

What causes Fatigue?

Fatigue can occur due to various reasons. It can happen due to poor blood, or due to an illness that slows down metabolism. The following are a few potential causes of fatigue.

Stress: Today’s fast lifestyle has taken a toll of the mental health of many people. Stress and worry have become an everyday element of life. When a person experiences these emotions in excess, it induces tiredness. Stress can also be due to various other reasons like bereavement, divorce, etc.

Psychiatric Reasons: Psychiatric reasons include depression, anxiety, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.

Endocrine/Metabolic – Fatigue can also occur due to certain endocrine diseases like Cushing's disease and kidney disease, electrolyte problems, liver disease, thyroid disorders, etc.

Drugs/Medications – Some medicines like antidepressants, steroids, antihistamines, sedatives, etc. can also induce fatigue.

Heart and lung conditions – Various conditions like pneumonia, asthma, coronary heart disease, etc. are also among the causes of the onset of fatigue.

Sleep Issues - Working till late at night, jet lag, insomnia, etc. are also among the causes of fatigue.

Infectious diseases: Diseases likemalaria, various tropical diseases, tuberculosis, glandular fever, HIV infection, flu, etc. are also among the possible causes of fatigue.

How fatigue is diagnosed?

Diagnosing fatigue is a challenging task, as the causes of fatigue can vary. The first step in the process of diagnosis is to find out the root cause of fatigue. For this the doctor will need to know your medical history. And they may ask you a number of questions related to your health and to the symptoms you are experiencing.

-          The doctor will try to identify the symptoms of fatigue. Say, for example, whether the symptoms for fatigue are worse during the day or the night. The doctor will also need to know about your sleep pattern, stress levels, emotional state, etc.

-          You will also need to tell your doctor about any recent injury, surgery or illness that could have a direct impact on your fatigue levels. They will also need to know about all the medication taken in the past or that is being taken currently.

-          You might also have to answer questions regarding your lifestyle and habits like working hours, diet, smoking or alcohol consumption, etc.

-          Your doctor may also want to carry out a physical examination to look for any signs of illness.

-          You might need to undergo urine tests, X-rays and blood tests to find any anomaly.

Once the root cause of fatigue is ascertained, appropriate treatment can be given.

How can fatigue be treated?

The success of treatment for fatigue will depend on the proper diagnosis of its root cause. For example, if the cause of fatigue in an individual is found to be anemia, then iron supplements would likely be prescribed. If fatigue is due to anomalous blood sugar levels, then medicines to regulate blood sugars will be needed, and so on.

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes:

Apart from \conventional medical treatment, one can make various changes to one’s lifestyle that can help in getting rid of fatigue. Some of them are listed below:

Yoga: Regularly practicing yoga techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, postures, etc. is said to be very helpful in improving fatigue symptoms.

Sleep Well: A good night’s sleep is very important to revitalize one’s body. One should set a routine for the sleep hours and should follow it without fail. For good sleep, it is important that you have your last meal at least two hours before sleeping. Clear your mind of any thoughts and relax. Having a warm bath before bed time is also said to be helpful in inducing sleep.

A Balanced Diet: A well balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fat is needed. Foods that should be included in your diet to fight fatigue are listed below:

-          Food Rich in Magnesium: For example, green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, etc.

-          Iron Rich Food: Such food includes poultry, shellfish, beans, dried fruits, peas, etc.

-          Omega-3 Fatty Acid Rich Foods: Rich sources of such food include fish like tuna, salmon, herring, etc. Flaxseeds, walnuts, and hemp seeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

-          Vitamin B-12: This can be found in eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, etc.

Ditch Alcohol and Smoking: Quit alcohol all together or have it in moderation. Quitting smoking is not only good for your fatigue problem but also for your overall health.

Physical activity: Fatigue due to inactivity is a common problem. The more inactive a person is, the more unfit they get. So make sure to include some physical activity in your routine. If you are overweight, aim for weight reduction; if you are underweight, consult a dietician or a gym instructor to help you gain weight.

People who exercise regularly sleep sounder. Hence they suffer from fatigue issues much less than those who don’t indulge in such activities.

If none of these measures help, seek medical advice. The sooner a person realizes that there is a fatigue problem, and the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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