What is Fatigue?
It is normal to feel tired or worn out after a hard day at work, or from a lack of quality sleep. When feelings of exhaustion persist after a good night’s sleep, and that weariness draws on for several weeks, it is time to consider the causes of such pervasive fatigue and seek medical help.
Implications of Fatigue
While fatigue is not a disease, if it is left untreated it can have a variety of health implications. It is often a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
It can cause you to lose interest in virtually all activities.
It diminishes energy and mental acuity.
It affects emotional and psychological health, and is also a symptom of depression, anxiety, grief, or stress.
Causes of Fatigue
Many factors contribute to the development of fatigue. These include lifestyle choices like alcohol or caffeine consumption, excessive physical activity or inactivity, lack of quality of sleep, the use of some medications, and unhealthy dietary habits.
Medical issues can also cause chronic fatigue. Some of these include:
- Liver failure
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Heart disease
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Sleep apnea
- Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Treatment of Fatigue
When lifestyle changes (increased water intake, sufficient quality sleep, stress reduction, healthy diet) fail to relieve feelings of fatigue after several weeks, you should consult your doctor to determine its underlying causes.
When fatigue is accompanied by severe headache or severe abdominal, pelvic, or back pain, or by vomiting blood or bleeding from the rectum, you should seek immediate attention from an emergency room or urgent care center.
Emergency care is also needed if your fatigue is accompanied by an irregular or fast heartbeat, chest pains, shortness of breath, or feelings that you might faint.