** Hypochondriacs beware: I have less than zero medical education/training/knowledge. This article is based on research that I’ve done on my own and should absolutely not be used for diagnosis or treatment. Everyone gets tired. Not everyone has these conditions. Consult a doctor for real concerns. **
We all get tired and have days where our energy is nonexistent, but usually after some rest and a good night’s sleep the fatigue vanishes.
Sometimes, however, even weeks of good sleep won’t get rid of the fatigue. When this is the case, there may be a underlying health condition that’s causing you to feel tired all the time (hypochondriacs still beware: you might just be tired). I know this because I’ve been diagnosed with not one, but two medical conditions that cause fatigue (my self-depricating humour finds this both hilarious and depressing).
In high school I was constantly sleeping 8-10 hours a night and taking naps everyday, but I always assumed I was going through growth spurts or that I was so active I needed the extra sleep. Turns out that wasn’t normal. After a series of blood tests and ultrasounds, I was diagnosed with anemia and hypothyroidism – two conditions that result in fatigue and are at the top of this list.
- Anemia: There are various types of anemia, but ultimately anemia occurs when your blood isn’t carrying enough oxygen to the rest of your body. A common cause of anemia is a lack of iron, which produces the hemoglobin protein in your blood that’s responsible for carrying oxygen to your body. Eating foods high in iron or taking iron supplements are common ways to manage iron-deficiency anemia. Find out more.
- Hypothyroidism: If you have hypothyroidism it means your thyroid gland is underactive. This happens when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone to keep the body functioning normally. Causes include taking certain medications, thyroid surgery or an autoimmune disease. Although hypothyroidism cannot be cured, it can be managed relatively easily by medication and regular blood tests. Find out more here.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): CFS occurs when you experience chronic fatigue for six months or more. It’s incredibly difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure. Management of CFS is based around reducing symptoms, which include headaches, muscle pain, sleep problems and feeling sick for more than 24 hours after physical activity. Find out more.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea happens when you experience pauses in breathing while you sleep, which can last from a few seconds to minutes. These pauses can happen 25 times or more an hour, and cause you to go from a deep sleep to a light sleep. This results in a poor quality sleep, which makes you tired during the day. The pauses happen when your airways get blocked and are caused by over-relaxed throat muscles, large tongue and tonsils, obesity and aging. Losing weight and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes can help reduce sleep apnea. Find out more here.
- Depression: People who have depression often have sleeping problems, which can be either sleeping too little or sleeping too much. If you have depression, you may feel tired a lot and have no desire to get out of bed or do anything. Once diagnosed, depression can be treated through various therapy options or medication. Read more here.
- Anxiety: People who have anxiety often experience fatigue for four reasons:
– Poor sleep quality from constant worrying and stress
– Mental fatigue
– Adrenal fatigue when your adrenal glands (which release the cortisol hormone to combat stress) function slower than needed due to over-use
– Adrenaline crashes from your body releasing adrenaline after misinterpreting anxiety for being danger
To reduce anxiety-induced fatigue, you can avoid late-night stimulants like TV, caffeine, or stress-filled activities. You can also exhaust yourself in a healthy way (anxiety causes unhealthy exhaustion, which results in poor sleep) by being physically active everyday to tire out your body and sleep better. Read more here.
Sometimes, we can’t control our fatigue, and it’s okay. If you’re reading this and recognize symptoms that may be a result of one of these conditions, please consult your doctor before doing anything (I’m a communications student – not a medical one).