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Fatigue


This issue of the Health & Wellness talks about Fatigue; the various indicators and symptoms of fatigue along with the root causes and remedies.

Fatigue is a common health complaint (physical causes are estimated at 20-60%, and emotional causes are the other 40-80%) It is, however, one of the hardest terms to define, and a symptom of many different conditions.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy. This is difference from drowsiness. Fatigue induces lack of energy and motivation while drowsiness is a feeling for the need to sleep. Drowsiness and apathy (a feeling of indifference or not caring about what happens) can be symptoms of fatigue.

Fatigue can be a normal and important response to physical exertion, emotional stress, boredom, or lack of sleep. However, it can also be a nonspecific sign of a more serious psychological or physical disorder. When fatigue is not relieved by enough sleep, good nutrition, or a low-stress environment, it should be evaluated by your doctor. Fatigue is a common complaint affecting approximately 10% of the population. Sometimes potentially serious causes of fatigue may be overlooked.

The pattern of fatigue may help your doctor determine its underlying cause. For example, if you wake up in the morning rested but rapidly develop fatigue with activity, you may have an ongoing physical condition like an under-active thyroid. On the other hand, if you wake up with a low level of energy and have fatigue that lasts throughout the day, you may be depressed.

What causes Fatigue?

There are many possible physical and psychological causes of fatigue. The most common causes are: An allergy that leads to hay fever or asthma Anemia (including iron deficiency anemia) Depression or grief Persistent pain Sleep disorders such as ongoing insomnia or obstructive sleep apnoea Under-activity of thyroid or over-active thyroid Use of alcohol or illegal drugs like cocaine, especially with regular use.

Fatigue can also accompany the following illnesses:

Anorexia or other eating disorders Arthritis Congestive Heart failure Cancer Chronic liver or kidney disease Diabetes Persisting Infection Malnutrition Certain medications may also cause drowsiness or fatigue, including antihistamines for allergies, blood pressure medicines, sleeping pills, steroids, and diuretics.

Contact your doctor if:

You are confused or dizzy.
You have blurred vision.
You have little to no urine, or recent swelling and weight gain.
You have ongoing, unexplained weakness or fatigue, especially if accompanied by fever or unintentional weight loss.
You have constipation, dry skin, weight gain, or intolerance to cold.
You have frequent headaches.
You are taking any medications, prescription or non-prescription, or using drugs that may cause fatigue or drowsiness.
You feel sad or depressed.

Effective home remedies to reduce Fatigue:

Get 7-8 hours of sound, uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Exercise regularly.
Learn better ways to relax.
Try yoga or meditation.
Maintain a reasonable balance between work and personal schedule.
Change your stressful circumstances, if possible. For example, take a vacation, and deal directly with problems in a relationship.
Take a multivitamin.
Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drug use

Stimulants (including caffeine) are NOT effective treatments for fatigue, and can actually make the problem worse when the drugs are stopped. Sedatives also tend to worsen fatigue in the long run. If you have chronic pain or depression, treating either often helps address the fatigue. DO NOT stop or change any medications without instruction from your doctor.