What is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a symptom not a disease state. Fatigue is something where you’re not having enough energy throughout the day to get through normally or mental exhaustion where you’re just not having the fortitude so-to speak to continue doing an activity.
Fatigue is really important to discuss between just that lack of energy and actual sleepiness. Sleepiness is a normal function. We only are built to have so much in our personal battery whether it’s our mind or our bodies to get things done and we need sleep to recharge. Fatigue means even though we’re sleeping we’re still just really really low energy and easy to peter out.
Causes and Remedies of Fatigue
- When we look at the causes of fatigue, we I like to look at things that are short term and more long term so short term think of, I caught the flu and I was really worn down and just had really little energy all day long to get things done. If you’ve been cramming for a test and you’ve used a lot of mental energy and afterwards you’re just feeling really worn out just needing to recharge.
- Life stressors too so if you had someone lost someone that you loved and are really struggling with that emotion, sometimes that uses up a lot of energy.
- Lifestyle, things that go in and out of the body and things that affect you directly and day to day life is one of the main causes of fatigue. First, is diet and the American diet. Oftentimes we’re lacking the good nutrition we need. We eat a lot of processed foods and we’re missing our fruits and vegetables.
So first things first, take a look from the beginning. Are you eating a lot of processed foods or eating a lot of junk? It’s not really good fuel. It’s like putting ethanol 85 in your Ferrari. It’s not going to run very well. So go back to the basics, go back to more fresh fruits and vegetables lean, meats good proteins and cut out the candy bars and the soda. And that also includes cutting down the alcohol too because Alcohol certainly can lead a lot to changes in energy.
- Next step is exercise. Exercise is incredibly important for the body to regenerate itself and actually helps a lot with energy. People put a lot of energy into exercise, but exercise actually gives back and helps people feel more energetic too.
- If you’re not getting enough, the body doesn’t get enough of the stimulation enough of the endorphins and enough of the training for muscles and heart to really help you feel better.
- The third thing that I would have people take a look at would be sleep. So even if you’re getting your hours of sleep the question is, do you have good quality sleep? If you’re waking up every hour to go to the restroom or you’re tossing and turning, oftentimes it’s a sign that something is not resting in the body.
If you don’t get adequate rest, our body doesn’t have the ability to process all of your thoughts throughout the day and doesn’t have time to regenerate a lot of its cells that need special time when you sleep. So if sleeping is disrupted over and over, it’s going to lead to fatigue and people and symptoms of tiredness.
Another important thing to look into when people are complaining about fatigue is their stress management. So if you have a stressful job and you’re working long hours and you’ve got deadlines bosses that put a lot of pressure on you, after a long period of time that will really start to wear you down. And that’s kind of where a lot of this emotional fatigue comes in because that’s just as important as how much energy your body has.
If you’ve also had life stressors, losing someone very important to you and the amount of impact that that places on you, that’s really going to increase your stress level. And that uses up a lot of energy. So really trying to go back to what are your main stressors and what can you do to relieve it, sometimes going back to the basics with cleaning up your diet making sure you’re getting good exercise or sleeping well may have a lot to do with how you can handle your stress.
Substance use is also very important when we’re trying to figure out fatigue. So smoking, drinking alcohol, marijuana use or any of the illicit drugs are not the best substances to be used. They are often used to give us a good sensation. People like a buzz from the nicotine and cigarettes that they use for stress management, but in the end it ends up being very harmful to the system in many ways. The nicotine sometimes overloads the neural circuits and all the other byproducts of smoking tobacco really cause just about every bad cancer that we know about in the body.
Alcohol use as well while some people may use that to help with stress or feeling anxious oftentimes depressed as the mind and energy levels really suffer as a result from that. So really also try to eliminate as many of those from your diet as possible and almost let the body heal itself to see if it helps with your energy levels.
After you’ve really worked through the basics and tried to modify everything you can on your own, it’s fair to go to the doctor or your healthcare provider and ask for help about fatigue.
Sometimes it’s a little bit worse in the wintertime because the lack of sunlight the colder temperatures and the darker days overall, sometimes make people feel tired fatigued etc..
So since fatigue is a multi component problem, most doctors will spend some time doing a really good history and physical. They’re going to ask you a lot of questions about your fatigue, what your typical energy levels should be like and asking a lot of things about your lifestyle at home. Once that’s gone through, a good physical exam is also really important. Sometimes, if there are physical problems with any of the glands in the body or dysfunction of any our organs that will sometimes be found on physical exam.