Why Am I Always Tired?
‘Why am I so tired all the time?’ If you’ve caught yourself feeling excessively tired on a regular basis, it may be more than ‘normal’ tiredness. The best way to find out what is causing your extreme tiredness is to book an appointment with your GP.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is extreme, persistent and debilitating tiredness. The fatigue is unexplained, persistent, and relapsing exhaustion.
What are the symptoms of exhaustion?
Fatigue symptoms may extend beyond simple tiredness and include a wide range of other physical, mental or emotional symptoms. These include:
- Chronic tiredness and exhaustion
- Sore or aching muscles
- Slow reflexes
- Poor concentration
- Impaired decision-making
- Moodiness and irritability
- Diminished hand-to-eye coordination
- Loss of appetite
- A reduced immune system function
- Blurred vision
- Short-term memory issues
- Low motivation
What causes tiredness?
Causes of fatigue may be psychological, physiological or physical:
- Stress – If you are experiencing stress at work or in your personal life, this can take its toll emotionally and contribute to fatigue. The adrenal glands, brain, nervous system, endocrine (hormonal system), and immune system are all sensitive to stress increased cortisol production, the body’s natural reactions to chronic stress, can
- Alcohol – This depressant drug slows the nervous system and can disturb normal sleep patterns, making it more difficult for your body to get the sleep it needs to recuperate and function at peak performance.
- Caffeine – Since caffeine stimulates the nervous system, overconsumption of caffeine can lead to insomnia and reduced quality of sleep.
- Lack of regular exercise – A sedentary lifestyle without regular exercise can
- Lack of sleep or sleep disturbances – Working late, shift work, jet lag, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, and reflux esophagitis can lead to a lack of sleep and result in fatigue.
- A nutritionally poor diet – A diet lacking essential nutrients may lead to a vitamin deficiency, such as iron deficiency, which can result in tiredness.
Exhaustion may sometimes be a sign of an underlying disorder or disease. This makes it particularly important that you discuss your symptoms with your GP or doctor.
Fatigue may be triggered by or co-occur with mental health issues or life changes, such as:
- Clinical depression
- Bereavement and grief
- Eating disorders
- Life events such as divorce
- Heart and lung conditions – Many heart and lung conditions and diseases can contribute to fatigue. These may include (but are not limited to) pneumonia, arrhythmias, asthma, pulmonary hypertension, valvular heart disease, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, acid reflux, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Endocrine and metabolic conditions – Fatigue may co-occur with conditions such as pregnancy, electrolyte imbalance, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, iron deficiency anaemia, and liver disease.
- Drugs and medications – Certain antidepressants, antihistamines, sedatives, and anti-anxiety drugs can trigger fatigue. Changes in doses or stopping medications can also increase fatigue.
How does a doctor diagnose fatigue?
Your doctor may diagnose fatigue (and more importantly, the reason behind your fatigue) using a number of medical tests. These include:
- Confirmation of your medical history
- Physical examination to check for signs of illness or disease
- Tests such as blood tests, urine tests, or X-rays
Your doctor may also ask detailed questions about your diet, lifestyle and life events.
What does treating fatigue involve?
If you are experiencing prolonged excessive fatigue, it is important to investigate the underlying causes with your doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and conduct any necessary medical tests to help you work out why you are experiencing fatigue. This may include a blood test, urine test or X-ray. Once they have determined the cause, your doctor will offer suggestions on how to find relief, and organise further investigation if the cause may be more serious.
Fortunately, in most cases, your energy levels may improve with some simple, practical lifestyle changes.
Checklist for fatigue
Here is a checklist of questions you can ask yourself to prepare for your GP visit:
- What symptoms of fatigue am I experiencing?
- Am I getting enough sleep? Is my sleep consistent and for the recommended amount for my age group?
• Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
• Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
• Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
• Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
• School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
• Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
• Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
• Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
• Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
- Am I experiencing lots of stress?
- Am I consuming alcohol or caffeine on a regular basis?
- Am I obtaining enough exercise?
- Am I eating well?
- Am I experiencing depression, grief or anxiety?
If your exhaustion is impacting your quality of life, it’s very important to book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. They will help to assess the underlying causes for your exhaustion so you can begin treatment.
Tips for dealing with fatigue
- Eat often with regular meals and healthy snacks every 3 to 5 hours.
- Prioritise regular exercise. Start with a small amount of exercise and build it up gradually until you achieve the recommended goal of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, each week.
- Ensure you are getting enough quality sleep. Try to structure your sleep so you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, avoid taking naps during the day, and take time to relax before you go to bed.
- If your fatigue coincides with stress, anxiety or depression, seek out talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- Cut down intake of caffeine from coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, painkillers and herbal remedies.
- Drink water regularly to avoid dehydration.
For more advice on fatigue and treatment options, visit our state of the art clinics today or contact us on (07) 3711 2880.