Australians are busier than ever. Getting everything accomplished and still having enough energy to enjoy life can be impossible for those who are constantly tired.
Sick of caffeine supplements, getting your eight hours of sleep, eating well and exercising but seeing no difference in your energy levels?
Do you wake up in the morning feeling only 10% better than you did the night before? If nothing seems to keep you energised throughout the day, it could be a sign of a physical, mental or medical issue. And while this article is no substitute for a professional medical opinion, we have put together a list of potential reasons to help you identify what’s causing your underlying fatigue.
Anemia is a relatively common condition in which your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body.
As a result, those with anemia tend to feel sluggish and dragged down constantly.
And while the ultimate condition of anemia involves your red blood cells supply, there are several different forms and severities of the condition.
The various types of anemia include:
1. Iron deficiency anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia. It occurs when your body does not absorb enough iron, which your bone marrow needs to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin production is important, as red blood cells need it to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.
2. B-12 and folate deficiency anemia
Folate and vitamin B-12 are also important in maintaining the health of your red blood cells, and a diet lacking them can lead to decreased red blood cell production.
3. Anemia caused by chronic disease
While most forms of anemia are caused by a nutrient deficiency, some anemia is the result of chronic disease. Diseases such as cancer, bone marrow disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease can also interfere with the production of red blood cells.
4. Aplastic anemia
Aplastic anemia is a rare form of anemia, which is the result of the body’s inability to produce enough red blood cells. This type of anemia can be caused by infections, autoimmune diseases, or prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.
5. Hemolytic anemia
Hemolytic anemia is a condition that occurs when the body destroys red blood cells faster than it can produce healthy replacements. While the exact cause of hemolytic anemia is unknown, you can be born with the condition or develop it later in life.
As you can see, there’s a wide range of causes for anemia. And while some anemia can be treated relatively easily (like those that involve nutrient deficiencies) others are more complicated and can even be lifelong conditions.
So, if your constant fatigue is coupled with irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold hands and feet, or headaches – be sure to make an appointment to see a doctor and explain your symptoms and concerns.
Your thyroid is a small, hormone-producing gland in your neck. Its job is to send messages to all of the organs throughout your body, essentially keeping everything in order and directing traffic.
But just like when a traffic light goes out at a busy intersection, when your thyroid is not functioning properly, your body goes out of whack.
The most common thyroid condition is called hypothyroidism. With this disease, your thyroid does not produce enough of its hormone. When this happens, you might have a hard time concentrating and might even feel like you are in a constant semi-sleep state, or jetlagged.
In combination with existing in a sort of trance, you might notice unexplained weight gain, chronic constipation, and hair loss.
Many times, people confuse the symptoms of hypothyroidism for depression, so it’s important to keep track of your symptoms and talk to your doctor about the way you have been feeling. If you are already being treated for depression, maybe it’s time for a reevaluation.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when your thyroid over-produces the thyroid hormone, causing symptoms such as weight loss, excessive sweating and hunger, hyperactivity, irritability, restlessness, mood swings, a rapid heart rate and palpitations.
If you know that you have type 2 diabetes, you might notice that you are frequently tired.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to know that fatigue is one of the biggest symptoms associated with the disease.
Type 2 diabetes causes fatigue as a result of poor blood sugar control, which generally results in hyperglycemia. In addition to hyperglycemia, many people with blood sugar issues also suffer from dehydration, so in those cases, the fatigue is a result of hyperglycemia and dehydration throughout the body.
If you are constantly tired, feel dehydrated, have regular yeast infections, slow healing sores, or numbness in your extremities, you should contact your doctor about diabetes testing.
And remember that if you are overweight you are more likely to suffer from diabetes.
Additionally, diabetes is not the kind of disease you want to try and treat without medical care or ignore altogether. Untreated diabetes can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, amputation, sexual dysfunction, and miscarriage.
Burnout and Stress
Not all causes of fatigue are related to disease or medical conditions. You can experience debilitating fatigue as the result of burnout as well.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of chronic stress that can leave you physically and emotionally exhausted.
If you know that you are an overachiever and strive to cram your days with as much productivity as possible, you could be at risk for burnout. And burnout doesn’t strike suddenly. It will creep up on you and start to affect you slowly and gradually until you are no longer able to function effectively.
If you are experiencing burnout, you might also notice that you have developed a sense of cynicism and detachment. You might feel ineffective and unaccomplished.
While it’s always important to rule out medical causes for your fatigue, if your doctor determines that your tiredness is the result of burnout, try these tips to help overcome your burnout and chronic stress:
- Take breaks throughout the day
- Limit your time with digital devices
- Take a vacation
- Pick up an interesting hobby
While certain medical conditions are directly tied to your nutrition, not all nutrition issues lead to anemia or diabetes.
However, your nutrition choices might still be affecting your energy levels and causing your fatigue.
Skipping meals and not consuming a well-rounded diet can cause nutritional deficiencies that adversely affect your energy levels.
If you’re having difficulties managing your diet, make an appointment with a dietician to help develop a plan to get you back on track. Dietician services are sometimes available through extras cover, so check that out before booking an appointment.
Don’t rule out the mind when it comes to chronic fatigue. Physical conditions and ailments can definitely affect your energy levels, but depression is another likely cause.
When you’re depressed, you may feel unmotivated and lethargic. Even small tasks can seem like an epic mission. If you suspect you’re suffering from depression, or another mental illness like anxiety, consult a healthcare professional.
They may recommend seeing a psychologist, taking medication, or taking time-out to practice better self-care. Self-care alone can help alleviate tiredness caused from mental illness, stress or burnout.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
This occurs when your digestive tract becomes damaged, causing tiny holes to appear in your gut lining. Tiny particles, such as proteins like gluten and bad bacteria can now pass through these holes and into your bloodstream, causing a range of symptoms. They include:
- Digestive issues such as cramps and bloating
- Rashes or skin irritation
- Muscle/joint pain
- Mood changes
- Troubling concentrating
- Weight gain
Causes for leaky gut syndrome include thyroid issues, autoimmune disorders, prescription medication, eating processed foods and antibiotics among others.
To ease leaky gut syndrome, start consuming healthier foods and avoiding things like gluten and refined sugar to protect your gut. Consider taking probiotic supplements as well. Always consult a doctor if you suspect your tiredness may be caused by leaky gut syndrome.
Dehydration can occur for a few reasons, but the most common is simply a lack of water. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Replacing water with other beverages such as coffee, soft drink or juice can cause dehydration.
Ensure you keep a glass or bottle of water with you throughout the day and keep your water levels replenished. This is an easy fix—but if you still find yourself dehydrated after consuming an adequate amount of water (about 2 litres a day for an adult), consult a doctor, as certain medical conditions could be the underlying cause.
Poor Quality of Sleep
It’s one thing to get enough sleep, but having a decent 8 or 9 hour snooze doesn’t say anything about the quality of that sleep.
Those with sleep apnea, a condition causing uncontrollable pauses in breathing during sleep, may experience poor quality sleep.
A stressful life, abuse, caring for infants, chronic pain, insufficient diet/exercise routine, taking certain drugs or alcohol can all affect the quality of sleep you have, from how quickly you fall asleep to how often you wake up involuntarily through the night.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you’ve explored various medical and lifestyle conditions, attempting to find an explanation for your fatigue (with no luck), you might suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder characterised by extreme, unexplained fatigue. The fatigue caused by chronic fatigue syndrome doesn’t go away with rest and is not the result of an underlying medical condition.
Because the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are unknown, it can be hard to diagnose and treat. However, there are medical and therapeutic treatments available if your doctor determines that chronic fatigue syndrome is the cause of your regular tiredness.