Millions of Americans struggle with either chronic or temporary fatigue. It can be quite debilitating when you don’t have the energy for daily activities. Most people jump to the conclusion that their fatigue must be due to an undiscovered underlying physical health condition, but more often than not fatigue is a by-product of an unbalanced lifestyle.
Non-Medical Causes of Fatigue
- Exercise imbalance: If a person exercises excessively or not enough daily, they may develop fatigue. It is important to achieve a good exercise balance.
- Medication side effect: Certain medications such as antidepressants or blood pressure medications.
- Sleep problems: insomnia is a common reason for fatigue. If a person never enters deep REM sleep, they are never really getting enough sleep to properly sustain them. This will lead to fatigue. If you have trouble sleeping, be sure to visit your doctor (or one of ours!) soon for help.
- High stress lifestyle: a workaholic or person who leads a high stress lifestyle is often a candidate for developing fatigue. It is important to find ways to better manage stress because excess cortisol can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle.
- Unhealthy diet: eating too much junk food and not enough nutritionally valuable foods can lead to sleep problems and general fatigue and lethargy. It is important to eat a nutritionally balanced diet.
- Alcohol or recreational drug use: Alcohol and drug use can be very detrimental to the body. Alcohol alone can lead to multiple chronic health problems, including sleep problems and fatigue.
Balance Your Lifestyle
To tackle non-medical fatigue, you should always ensure you prioritize the following areas of your life: getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours a night), healthy eating, limiting alcohol use, checking on your medications, exercising the recommended 30-60 minutes daily, and keeping your stress in check. Leading such a balanced lifestyle will not only help reduce fatigue, but can also help other areas of life, as well as improving overall wellbeing and reducing risk of acquiring certain health problems.
Potential Underlying Health Conditions
While fatigue is most often due to lifestyle factors, occasionally it can be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Some of these include:
- Lung disease
- Thyroid disease
- Celiac Disease
- Depression or anxiety
- Kidney failure
- Chronic pain diseases
- Sleep apnea
- Multiple sclerosis
- Restless leg syndrome
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Cardiovascular disease
Menopause or other hormone imbalances can cause fatigue as well.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is another underlying medical reason for fatigue. CFS is a troublesome (sometimes debilitating) and largely mysterious disorder that afflicts over 1 million Americans. CFS can be caused by deficiencies, immune dysfunction
or hypotension, among other things. Some symptoms of CFS include impaired mental function, insomnia, hypersomnia, muscle pain or weakness, lack of physical stamina, headaches or inability to feel rested after sleeping adequately or excessively. There are no tests to diagnose CFS, so doctors largely rely on patient history and symptom presentation. Some treatment options include antidepressants, sleeping pills, physio and psychological therapy and lifestyle changes.
When To See The Doc
You should see the doctor when experiencing any kind of fatigue so he or she can rule out any underlying medical conditions or help you with medication adjustments. Thanks for visiting EMC!