What is Fatigue?
Anyone of us may have the feeling of tiredness after a heavy working day; this is temporary and once you get some rest, you will be ok. In this article we are discussing the other form of persistent tiredness despite getting enough rest; chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue usually affects the life of the patient, he feels tired all the time.
What Causes Fatigue?
Lots of causes may lead to chronic fatigue, following are some of them:
- Anemia especially iron deficiency anemia
- Long grief
- Pain for long period of time
- Some drugs; such as, antidepressants
- Thyroid diseases; especially, hypothyroidism
- Sleep disorders; for example, obstructive sleep apnea
- Drug abuse; such as cocaine
- Alcohol abuse
Chronic Fatigue may be an Early Sign of Several Diseases
- Eating disorders; for example, anorexia nervosa
- Addison’s disease
- Arthritis; such as, rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart failure
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Liver diseases; for example, hepatitis
- Endocarditis which is the bacterial infection of the valves in the heart
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Kidney failure and dialysis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome which is a diagnosis of exclusion; if chronic fatigue persists more than six months with no improvement and after the exclusion of all other possible diagnoses, we can diagnose the chronic fatigue syndrome.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fatigue?
The major symptom of fatigue is the sensation of severe exhaustion after any activity which doesn’t relieve with rest. Chronic fatigue disables the patient thus he can’t resume his routine activities. Most patients describe it as being overwhelmed and tired all the time. Some of them may describe it as loss of interest in doing anything; always keep in mind that fatigue is a very common compliant between depressed patients.
How is the Cause of Fatigue Diagnosed?
As we mentioned before, fatigue is a general symptom for multiple illnesses so it’s very crucial to evaluate the patient’s condition in a comprehensive way. Following is the best way to diagnose the cause of fatigue:
- Evaluation of the Complaint of Fatigue: It’s important to know some details about the complaint itself; for example, the onset, duration, character, timing, any associated symptoms, and any relieving factors.
- Take full details about the sleeping hours and pattern of the patient: Sleep is much related to the fatigue, it’s very important to take full details about the sleeping hours, sleeping patterns, total sleeping hours, and other details.
- Full Medical History: Evaluation of the patient for any previous illnesses, any recent health problems, and any medications that he used to take regularly.
- Life Pattern: It’s very useful to ask about the pattern of the patient’s life, diet, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and emotional problems
- Examination: The doctor will do a full physical exam for the patient.
- Diagnostic Tests: Many tests may be done for the patient to rule out any physical cause of fatigue; those may include, blood tests, urine tests, imaging studies, x-rays, etc.
What is the Treatment for Fatigue?
Treatment of fatigue depends mainly on the cause of it. If the cause is physical, the patient should be treated depending on this physical cause. If the cause is emotional, it’s better to convert the case to a specialist in this field to treat it. If you suspect depression, tell your patient to consult a psychiatrist to arrange a proper management plan.
If you have been diagnosed with depression, once you treat depression, your fatigue will improve. But keep in mind that some antidepressants may itself cause fatigue. Try to arrange that with your doctor.
Always remember that stimulants; especially caffeine, are not a good way to treat fatigue. In fact, those may make your fatigue worse once you stop them.
What CFIDS Association of America is Saying About Fatigue?
Depending on the chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome association of America:
- More than one million patients in US have chronic fatigue syndrome
- There is no specific number regarding the prevalence worldwide
- The peak incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome is 40 to 59
- Anyone at any age may suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome
- Women are more susceptible than men to have chronic fatigue
- It’s very rare for children to have chronic fatigue, some children may suffer from it
Can Fatigue be Prevented?
Following are some tips to prevent fatigue:
- Sleep enough time on a good relaxing environment
- Eat balance healthy diet
- Drink enough amount of water daily
- Do regular exercises
- Yoga is a great option for relaxation
- Don’t overwork, be reasonable
- Try to avoid any stressful conditions
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid drug abuse
- Stop smoking