Too tired too often? 10 causes of fatigue
What does it take to perform at your job, be a great spouse, a great parent, and have a buzzing social live? In addition to the many other wonderful qualities that you may list, it requires a lot of energy!
So are you bursting with the energy to excel at your many roles? Or do you often find yourself fighting a yawn and just feeling too tired for no obvious reason?
Here are some common causes of fatigue that may help you figure out a possible reason for your lack of energy.
Though in few cases, fatigue may be a sign of a serious health problem, most of the time it's a relatively simple matter that can be easily resolved.
If "More Energy" is on your wish list this year, you may find some answers here.
Photographs: Claro Cortes IV/Reuters
Oxygen shortage: Cause #1 Anemia
If you often feel tired, or tire easily with little exertion, a possible cause could be anemia. This is particularly true if you are a woman in your reproductive years.
Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells (RBCs) or Hemoglobin (Hb) in the body. RBCs and Hb are needed to carry oxygen from your lungs to the other parts of your body. If your tissues do not get a good oxygen supply they tire easily.
Women are more prone to anemia if they have heavy periods or if they have recently had a baby.
Deficiency of Iron, folic acid and Vitamin B 12 in diet can also cause anemia. Some other symptoms of anemia are pale skin, shortness of breath and palpitations (feeling of heart racing).
Anemia can be easily diagnosed through a blood test.
It can be treated with iron supplements and adding iron-rich foods such as meat, liver, beans, spinach and broccoli in diet.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
A sluggish metabolism: Cause #2 Hypothyroidism
The thyroid hormone controls several body functions, including the body's ability to utilize food for energy. Its deficiency (hypothyroidism) causes myriad subtle and non specific symptoms that are often not noticed or ignored.
One of the symptoms is fatigue. Other symptoms include weight gain, constipation, cold intolerance, and dry skin.
A blood test for the levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) can confirm hypothyroidism.
The condition can be effectively managed with synthetic thyroid hormone.
Not sleeping well: Cause #3 Sleep apnea
It's fair enough to feel tired if you have not slept well. But what if you yawn, doze and feel tired even after eight hours of "apparently" sound sleep. Well, it could be because of sleep apnea.
It is a condition in which breathing is momentarily interrupted several times during sleep. It disrupts your slumber for a short period, but without you being aware of the disruption.
This means that you actually do not sleep well as you think. If you are obese or snore loudly, there is a high likelihood that your daytime fatigue is caused by sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea frequently goes undiagnosed and may be much more common than we think.
Its diagnosis requires evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep medicine.
Treatment involves lifestyle changes, weight loss, and the use of devices to keep your airways open while you sleep.
Poor fuel delivery: Cause #4 Diabetes
Diabetes is a state in which there is excess sugar in your blood, but it can't enter your cells where it's needed to produce energy.
The outcome could be continual fatigue with no apparent reason.
Undiagnosed diabetes is far more common that we think. It's worthwhile to get tested for diabetes, not only to fix your fatigue, but also to stop other serious complications at the earliest.
Problem with the pump: Cause #5 Heart disease
If activities that you were earlier able to do effortlessly have off late started to make you exhausted, it's advisable to get your heart examined by a physician.
While fatigue is a very subjective symptom with numerous causes, recent onset of fatigue that worsens as the day progresses may indicate reduced pumping ability of your heart.
Fatigue associated with heart disease may also at times give a feeling of weakness or heaviness of the legs.
However, if you feel tired soon after you wake up and continue to do so throughout the day, it's unlikely to be heart disease.
Mind affecting the body: Cause #6 Depression
Depression is not just a psychological illness. It has serious physical consequences, one of which is unexplained fatigue.
Feeling tired in the morning and not wanting to get out of bed are typical signs of an underlying psychological cause. Other common physical signs of depression are headaches, poor appetite, muscle aches and pain.
If you have been feeling tired and blue for more than a couple of weeks, do see a doctor.
Counseling and/ or medications can make you feel better fairly quickly. Waiting for your symptoms to go away with time will only worsen your suffering.
A hidden infection: Cause #7 Undiagnosed UTI
You may know that urinary tract infections (UTIs) cause burning during urination and a sense of urgency. But in many cases these typical symptoms are too mild or even absent, and the major problem is fatigue.
A simple urine test can quickly uncover UTIs. Your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics that will drive away the infection and the associated fatigue in a matter of days.
Is it your pills: Cause #8 Medications
Some medications can cause fatigue as a side effect. Some blood pressure lowering medicines, antidepressants, and antihistamines (anti allergy medicines) are known to cause fatigue and drowsiness.
If you have been feeling more tired since you started some pills, there's a chance that they are the cause of your lethargy.
But do not discontinue any medication without consulting your doctor.
If it is indeed the pills that are making you tired, your doctor will be able to suggest better alternatives.
Too little fuel: Cause #9 Poor diet
It sounds obvious that too little food would translate into too little energy. Yet in the hustle and bustle of our daily life, we often neglect our diet.
In addition, quite a few people are victims of unhealthy weight loss diets that are leaving them perpetually exhausted.
Do ascertain that your diet meets your daily nutritional needs. For sustained energy through the day include protein and complex carbohydrates in each meal.
Snack on a fruit or a small handful of nuts in between meals, instead of ignoring any hunger pangs.
Too little exercise: Cause #10 Lack of physical activity
It may sound counterintuitive, but the truth is that too little activity can make you quite tired.
Moderate exercise encourages our body to utilize fuel effectively and fine tunes your metabolism to make you feel energetic.
Even 20 minutes of walking, three to four times a week, can boost your stamina. So if you have been shying from exercise forever, do start now to invigorate your life.