original-imageDo you feel tired and fatigued most of the time? If so, don’t worry–many people do and there are simple lifestyle changes that can help you to feel better. First, you must understand what fatigue is and that if ignored, it can become chronic. Chronic fatigue is a complex medical condition characterized by feeling tired to such an extent that it limits someone’s ability to carry out daily routine activities.

Symptoms of fatigue include unrefreshing sleep, tiredness, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, mental difficulties, and physical and mental exhaustion. In the subsequent paragraphs, we’ve discussed 3 reasons why you may feel fatigued and medical conditions that may explain your tiredness. We’ve also talked about some simple solutions to help you get back on your feet if you are also affected by this condition.

Here are three reasons why you may be feeling fatigued.

Lack of A Healthy Diet
A diet rich in caffeine and sugar can leave you tired as your blood sugar levels bounce up and down. Instead, it is best to always eat a balanced, healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean white meat.

  • “Most people feel like they’re less tired if they eat a healthy diet,” says J. Fred Ralston Jr., MD, former head of the American College of Physicians.
  • “Eating healthy also means you’ll carry less weight, and obesity is a big contributor to fatigue.

Insufficient Sleep
This probably seems a bit obvious but the majority of people don’t get enough sleep.
If you aren’t sleeping enough, try avoiding coffee or alcohol at night, and shut off the computer or TV (and definitely don’t try to do work in bed, as that will associate your bed with staying up).

Lack of Physical Activity and Exercise
Combating tiredness is often as simple as getting regular, strenuous exercise.

  • But make sure you don’t exercise right before you go to sleep, as that will inhibit your ability to fall asleep.
  • Counter-intuitively, exercising more doesn’t sap your strength–in fact, the more you exercise, the less fatigue you’ll feel.
  • For most people, getting 40 minutes of exercise at least 4 times a week is the way to combat fatigue.

Keep with it for 3-6 months and you probably will feel much better.

Now, if you still feel exhausted after trying a healthier diet, getting more sleep, and doing regular exercise, then you might want to check with a doctor to see if there’s an existing medical condition. Chronic fatigue is often linked to these issues:

  • Anemia – “This is a very common cause of fatigue and very easy to check with a simple blood test,” says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, an Emory University clinical associate professor of medicine. “It’s particularly a problem for women, especially those who are having heavy menstrual periods.” You can lessen anemia with an iron-rich course of meals, with an emphasis on dark meats, leafy greens, or supplements if you have a chronic iron deficiency.
  • Deficiencies in key nutrients such as potassium; this can be easily checked with a blood panel diagnostic.
  • Thyroid problems – Over- and under-active thyroids both can cause fatigue, so getting a blood test for your level of thyroid-stimulating hormone can help evaluate your thyroid function.
  • Diabetes – People who have uncontrolled diabetes just don’t feel good. Symptoms to watch for include blurred vision or frequent urinating, so you should get that checked out with a blood test.
  • Depression – If your feelings of tiredness are also combined with feelings of sadness and loss of appetite, and you just can’t find any joy in things you once enjoyed, you may be depressed. Don’t keep that to yourself. Your doctor, or a therapist, can start you on the path to feeling better.
  • Sleep problems – if you never feel rested, and nothing seems to fix that, you might look into visiting a sleep lab, especially if you snore. Snoring can be part of obstructive sleep apnea, in which people briefly stop breathing several times a night. There are treatments for sleep apnea.
  • Undiagnosed heart disease – Tiredness can be a sign of heart trouble, particularly in women. If you have trouble with exercise you used to do easily, or if you start feeling worse when you exercise, this could be a red flag for heart trouble.

But again, it is best to start with the basics: your sleep, your diet, and your activity level. Sometimes the simplest fixes are all it takes. To summarize, the reasons you may be feeling fatigue could be attributed to your diet, lack of sleep, and exercise, but there could be underlying medical conditions including undiagnosed heart disease, diabetes, depression, and sleep problems that could explain your fatigue.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP