We all feel tired from time to time, in fact feeling exhausted is so common that GPs have an acronym for the condition - TATT, Tired all the time!
Often we’ll feel tired if we’ve had too many late nights, lots of stress at work, over exercising or perhaps a baby keeping you up at night.
But when tiredness or exhaustion go on for significant periods of time they can begin to affect your life and your ability to get on with working and doing the things you enjoy doing. If this is the case, it might be time to seek help and book an appointment with your GP. You might be suffering from one of these health conditions known to cause tiredness or fatigue.
One of the most common medical reasons for feeling constantly run down is iron deficiency anaemia.
Symptoms of anaemia will make you feel lethargic with tired, heavy muscles. You might feel like you just can’t be bothered to do or plan anything and that easy tasks have begun to feel like bigger challenges to face.
Often women with heavy periods or who are pregnant can experience bouts of anaemia and it’s usually very easy to treat with iron tablets or supplements being prescribed to redress the imbalance in blood levels.
Anaemia can also affect men and postmenopausal women - in this case the cause is likely to be related to stomach and intestine problems, such as an ulcer or over use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. Seeking advice from your GP is important in this case to identify the issue.
Your tiredness could simply be down to a lack of good quality sleep which is often caused by a condition called sleep apnoea. If you suffer from sleep apnoea your throat will narrow or close during sleep and will repeatedly interrupt your breathing.
When this happens, not only will you snore quite loudly but your blood’s oxygen levels will dramatically drop. Added to this sleep apnoea sufferers will regularly wake in the night because of the difficulty with breathing, which means waking up feeling exhausted the next day.
It's most common in overweight middle-aged men. Drinking alcohol and smoking makes it worse. Your GP might suggest that you wear a gum shield or mask to aid breathing in the night, or if conditions are more severe surgery to help your breathing (like removing tonsils) can prove successful.
Another reason for chronic tiredness could be related to your thyroid, in particular if you’re suffering from an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland stops producing the hormones the body needs to regulate your metabolism (in other words, the process that turns food into good energy). When the thyroid stops working properly many of the body’s functions slow down, making you feel slow, tired and sluggish.
You might also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin if your thyroid stops working and it's most common in women and happens more often as you get older.
Your GP can diagnose an underactive thyroid by taking a simple blood test, and it can be treated easily with replacement hormone tablets.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. One of the main symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is feeling very tired.
In type 1 diabetes the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react efficiently to insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1, in fact in the UK around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.
If you’re feeling tired and exhausted, feeling thirsty, peeing a lot (especially through the night) and you’re losing weight, it’s a good idea to ask you GP to run blood tests to check for diabetes.
Depression affects people in many different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms including making you feel drained of energy and the ability to get up and go.
Often it can stop you falling asleep, interrupt your sleep or cause you to wake up early in the morning, which makes you feel more tired during the day - and can make dealing with the condition even more difficult.
Many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression but it’s best not to put it off. There is a huge amount of help available and the sooner you see a doctor the sooner you can be on your way to recovery.
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