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Fatigue: What Could it Mean?

With today’s hectic and fast-paced lifestyles, feeling tired can often be an everyday experience.  But when you’re so tired that it’s persistently impacting your activities, even after adequate rest and sleep, you’re probably really dealing with fatigue.

Fatigue is usually a clear sign that your body can’t keep up with the demands being placed on it.  This may be due to chronic lack or sleep or unrelenting stress, or it could be a symptom of something more serious, such as depression or diabetes. And, fatigue may manifest itself physically, mentally, or as a combination of the two.  Lack of energy, lack of motivation, and even a sense of apathy can all be symptoms of fatigue.  Other signs of fatigue that can often be overlooked include:

  • Aching or sore muscles
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Poor immune system function

How do you determine when it’s fatigue, and not just simply being tired? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.  But if you are chronically tired and have one or more of the other symptoms listed above, it’s time to talk to your doctor about possible causes.  He or she will likely start with a sleep evaluation.  Sleep apnea or poor quality sleep – in addition to just not getting enough sleep – are common causes of fatigue.  Additional tests may be ordered if your doctor suspects infection, hormonal imbalances, anemia, liver or kidney problems, diabetes, or other illnesses may be to blame.

Being fatigued is not normal, and it shouldn’t be accepted as a consequence of a busy life.  It’s important to determine the cause, the work with your doctor to determine an appropriate course of action.  From lifestyle changes to treatment and management of chronic conditions, the cause of your fatigue can likely to treated, and you can return to the energy levels and lifestyle that are important to you.

Our Sleep Disorders program provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for your sleep problems. Learn more.

This article first appeared in the April 2016 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.