Fatigue - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Fatigue is a term used to describe a feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. It is a normal response to stress or physical exertion, but can also be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires medical attention. Fatigue may reduce the quality of life as affected individuals may be unable to function at work.
Fatigue can be due to certain lifestyle factors such as lack of activity or poor diet which get resolved through making changes in daily routine. However, if it is a symptom of an underlying disease, it should not be ignored for it may lead to serious medical conditions.
Types of Fatigue
Fatigue could be physical or mental-
It is characterized by a transient inability of muscles to maintain physical performance and can worsen by intense physical exercise or exertion. A person may find it physically hard to engage in a normal activity. For example, climbing stairs.
Mental fatigue is characterized by a transient reduction in cognitive performance resulting from prolonged periods of cognitive activity. It has been shown to reduce physical appearance, the person may feel sleepy or have difficulty staying awake while working. Physical and mental fatigue often occurs together.
Causes of Fatigue
A few possible causes of fatigue include-
- Lack of sleep.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Jet lag disorder.
- Unhealthy eating habits.
- Use of alcohol or drugs.
- Excess physical activity.
- Medications such as cough medicines, or antihistamines.
Prolonged exhaustion may be caused by-
- Acute liver failure.
- Sleep apnea.
- Multiple Sclerosis.
- Heart disease.
- Chronic infection.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Chronic kidney disease.
- Traumatic brain injury.
- Pulmonary disease.
- Vitamin deficiencies.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Systemic lupus.
- Weakened immune system.
- Massive blood loss.
Symptoms of Fatigue
The main symptom of fatigue is exhaustion with physical or mental activity. Common symptoms associated with fatigue can include-
- Daytime drowsiness.
- Aching or sore muscles.
- Difficulty in concentrating.
- Lack of motivation.
Diagnosis for Fatigue
To make a diagnosis, the doctor will review your medical history and consider any other symptoms that are present. This may help to rule out any underlying condition. The doctor may ask questions related to-
- The pattern of fatigue such as being tired at certain times during the day, whether fatigue reduces after a nap or increases throughout the day.
- The quality of sleep includes your emotional state, sleep pattern (the amount of sleep, the number of times that a person awakens during the night), and stress level.
The doctor might order some tests-
- To rule out a sleep disorder, sleep study may be conducted.
- Screening for depression, drug abuse, poor diet, lack of physical exercise and other psychological conditions.
- Blood tests to check for infections and anemia.
- Urinalysis to look for signs of liver disease or diabetes tests to check for liver or kidney function.
Treatment for Fatigue
If fatigue is related to any underlying medical condition, treating it may help alleviate fatigue-
Yoga and mindfulness- This may improve symptoms of fatigue.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- A form of psychotherapy treatment that helps people identify and change destructive thought patterns that negatively impacts behaviour and emotions.
Sleep- Practicing good sleeping habits.
Food habits- Eat spinach and high-fiber food such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, and bulgur. Avoid food high in refined carbohydrates, such as flour and white sugar. Avoid fatty foods.
Physical activities- Doing regular physical activities is also a great way to treat fatigue.
Keep your legs straight when lying down- This improves blood circulation in the head and recharges the body.
Drink plenty of water- A person should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. It's not enough to wait when you're thirsty to drink water.
Dietary supplements- Coenzyme Q10, Gingko and the amino acid carnitine are known to increase energy levels. This dietary supplement can be taken with food.
Limit caffeine consumption- Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Home Remedies to Overcome Fatigue
Dates (Khajur)- Dates are a rich source of multiple nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Consuming two or three dates boiled in milk for 8 to 10 minutes helps fight fatigue.
Banana- Eat two ripe bananas a day (as a snack or meal) as they contain many beneficial nutrients which helps to overcome fatigue.
Almonds- Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats, high-quality protein, and fibers. Therefore, drinking warm milk made of almonds and figs will surely help in relieving fatigue instantly.
Licorice extract- Licorice extract is a great remedy for fatigue. This supplement can increase energy levels due to its anti-inflammatory properties that increase sodium levels in the bloodstream.
Arctic root- Arctic root is a herb native to the cold climates of Europe and Asia. It is an adaptogen that helps improve quality of life by reducing stress. It is usually used to treat flu symptoms and headache, but can also be used to treat fatigue.
When to see a doctor?
You should seek immediate medical attention if your fatigue is accompanied by-
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Abdominal pain.