Fatigue is basically tiredness that the body experiences as a result of physical or mental effort or a combination of both. However, when tiredness happens constantly and reduces your energy, concentration and motivation, and does not go away even with rest, then that could be something to worry about. Most people do not know that fatigue can require medical attention.
Causes of Fatigue
Fatigue is associated with several health issues such as:
- Endocrine and metabolic conditions: Fatigue can be brought about by conditions that affect the endocrine and metabolic system such as kidney disease, hypothyroidism, liver disease and diabetes, among others.
- Heart and Lung Conditions: Conditions such as acid reflux, congestive heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma, among other conditions that affect the heart and lungs can also cause fatigue.
- Mental Health Problems: Stress, alcohol abuse, eating disorder, anxiety or divorce, among many other issues, can lead to clinical depression and other mental problems, which can in turn cause fatigue.
- Chronic pain: People who suffer from conditions such as fibromyalgia which cause chronic pain are unable to get good quality sleep and that lack of sleep and being in pain can also result in fatigue.
- Infections: Fatigue can also be due to certain infections like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, flu or hepatitis, among others.
Other causes of fatigue are:
- Sleep problems: These may result from sleep apnea, insomnia, jet lag and working late, among several other causes that can lead to fatigue.
- Chemicals and substances: Taking caffeinated beverages too near to the time for sleeping, is what many people know causes sleep problems; however, alcoholic beverages and vitamin and mineral deficiencies are other factors that can disrupt normal sleep which can lead to fatigue.
- Drugs and medications: Certain medications such as antidepressants, sedatives, anti-anxiety and sedatives can cause fatigue and, in some cases, changing their doses can have the same effect as well.
- Being overweight or underweight: Being overweight means having to carry more weight and that can cause fatigue and increase the risk of conditions like diabetes and sleep apnea which include fatigue as one of their symptoms. It might be difficult at first to understand how a person who is underweight can suffer from fatigue if one overlooks the causes of low body weight such as conditions like cancer, thyroid overactivity and chronic diseases that may cause fatigue.
- Having too much or too little activity: Lack of physical activity can condition the body in such a way that it becomes difficult to perform physical tasks. However, when physical or mental activity is intensified, that could also lead to fatigue.
What are the symptoms of fatigue?
Fatigue is mostly known as a symptom for other diseases; however, fatigue itself has symptoms which include:
- Lack of motivation
- Poor concentration
- Loss of appetite
- Short-term memory problems
- Irritability and moodiness
- Problems with vision such as blurriness
Can fatigue be diagnosed and how?
It can be difficult to diagnose fatigue owing to the fact that the causes and symptoms may vary in different people. For a doctor to be able to diagnose fatigue, they need to understand:
- Your medical history,
- The extent of the fatigue,
- What time of the day your symptoms are worse or better and whether it gets better when you take a nap,
- The quality of sleep taking into account your stress levels, your sleep patterns and your emotional state,
- Your lifestyle habits such as your diet and whether you take caffeine or abuse any drugs, and
- Whether you are taking any medications.
With this understanding, the doctor can then carry out a physical examination to check for illnesses. The doctor can then carry out the following tests to find out the underlying factors that are causing the fatigue. These tests include blood tests, urine tests, mental health questionnaires and imaging scans. The tests vary depending on what symptoms you are experiencing.
To be able to treat fatigue successfully, it is important to know and treat the underlying factors such as obesity, sleep apnea, depression, infection and abnormal heart rhythm, among other factors. Some of the ways fatigue is treated is through:
- To be able to treat fatigue successfully, it is important to know and treat the underlying factors such as obesity, sleep apnea, depression, infection and abnormal heart rhythm, among other factors. Some of the ways fatigue is treated is through:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This short-term therapy works by assisting people to behave differently by changing their thought patterns to make them more able to cope with stress, grief and other challenges they encounter.
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: This is a form of cognitive therapy that incorporates mindful practices such as breathing exercises and meditation to train you to avoid negative thinking.
- Home Treatments, such as the following:
1. Watching your eating and drinking habits, for example, by eating a well-balanced diet, eating small, frequent portions, avoiding or controlling the consumption of alcohol and eating snacks that are low in sugar.
2. Improving your quality of sleep by practising good sleep practices.
3. Doing frequent physical activity to improve sleep.
Prevention of fatigue involves preventing the underlying factors by:
- Managing stress properly
- Checking the medications, you are taking with your pharmacist or healthcare practitioner
- Exercising regularly
- Improving your diet by taking more fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Consuming caffeine in moderation
- Avoiding consumption of tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks before bedtime
- Managing medical conditions like diabetes, depression and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
If your fatigue issue is caused by sleep problems International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT) can help you find a treatment at one of our partner hospitals such as the Bumrungrad International Hospital, in Bangkok, Thailand. It has a comprehensive clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.
The centre brings together medical experts in the fields of Pulmonary Medicine, Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat), Neurology and Psychiatry, to offer a wide range of testing and tailored treatment services such as Laser and Conventional surgery; uvular trimming, and other throat/ palate surgery, radiofrequency treatment to shrink the soft palate and uvular CPAP assessment and adjustment, among other services.
Contact IMT today to book your appointment at Bumrungrad International hospital.