Chronic Fatigue

Chronic Fatigue: An Overview Image

Everyone gets tired from time to time. A hard workout, a busy day with the kids or a long day at work can be enough to make anyone feel exhausted. However, some people feel fatigued on a regular basis, even after a full night’s sleep. This symptom is known as “chronic fatigue,” and can be the result of a wide variety of medical disorders.

Conditions that Can Cause Chronic Fatigue Symptoms

Many people feel tired on a daily basis, even if they’ve gotten plenty of sleep. This can be a result of:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Sleep apnea.

Insomnia, which is a persistent difficulty to fall and/or stay asleep, can also cause chronic fatigue. A variety of factors and conditions can contribute to insomnia, including stress, depression, anxiety and certain medication side effects.

Those who suffer from any of the above conditions may experience overwhelming fatigue during the day, even if they’ve slept well at night. They may also experience chronic pain, depression or any of a number of other symptoms related to chronic fatigue. Each disease is unique, and comes with its own set of individual symptoms.

When to Consult Your Doctor About Chronic Fatigue

Because fatigue is a symptom of so many conditions, some of which are extremely serious, consult your doctor if you’re suffering from feelings of fatigue on a regular basis, despite getting a full night’s sleep. Left untreated, some of the illnesses indicated by fatigue can cause a variety of other symptoms.

After you visit your doctor, he will run appropriate tests and help you to determine if your fatigue has a medical cause. Your doctor may order blood work, a sleep study or other procedures to help determine the cause of your fatigue.

Once the cause of your chronic fatigue symptoms has been determined, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Your doctor will likely be able to help you manage your symptoms with medication, diet and lifestyle changes. If your chronic fatigue is the result of an underlying condition, you’ll likely work with your doctor to treat that condition while also ensuring you’re getting enough rest.

Managing Fatigue at Home

If you don’t have a medical condition, but simply suffer from fatigue due to occasional sleeplessness, physical exertion or another temporary circumstance, you may be able to manage your fatigue symptoms by practicing good sleep hygiene. Changing your lifestyle to allow for eight hours or more of uninterrupted sleep may help lessen the tiredness that you feel. You may also be able to increase your energy levels by taking a multivitamin, eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.

Whether you’re suffering from general tiredness or chronic fatigue, take action. No matter the cause, exhaustion can be debilitating.

Resources

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Chronic fatigue: Symptoms. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/DS00395/DSECTION=symptoms

University of Michigan Health System. (2008). Chronic fatigue syndrome. Retrieved August 27, 2010, from http://health.med.umich.edu/healthcontent.cfm?xyzpdqabc=0