Tired of feeling tired?
No matter how you describe it – weary, tired, exhausted, listless, or run down – fatigue is generally defined as having a lack of energy and motivation that can be physical, mental or both.19 Fatigue is not the same as drowsiness.19 People who are drowsy/sleepy are temporarily awakened by activity and usually feel better after a nap.20 Fatigue on the other hand is worsened by exercise (in the short term) and not improved by sleep.20
Fatigue is common and in a third of cases, no cause can be found.19,20 This fatigue is termed physiological fatigue and is usually due to an imbalance in the routines of exercise, sleep, diet and other activities and is relieved by rest and reduced mental and physical activity.19,20
Secondary fatigue is caused by an underlying medical condition and lasts for variable periods but generally less than 6 months.20
Some causes include:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies – e.g. magnesium, iron, B vitamins21
- Metabolic or hormonal – e.g. anaemia, thyroid disease, diabetes19
- Infection – e.g. viral illness, upper respiratory tract infection, malaria19
- Heart and lung disorders – e.g. heart failure, asthma, emphysema19 Mental health – e.g. depression, anxiety, drug abuse19
- Medications – e.g. high blood pressure medication, allergy medication, antidepressants, muscle relaxants19
- Other – e.g. cancer, obesity, sleep problems19
If you are experiencing fatigue, make sure you consult your healthcare professional to exclude secondary causes. Stay tuned for a future blog on how to manage physiological fatigue.