Fatigue – Causes And Treatments

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I am so tired, and my tiredness is very tired. The proverb means that a person is tired, and he often gets tired. So, he sarcastically mentions that his tiredness is also tired. This proverb also means, just like your body is tired, your mind is also tired. Though often tiredness and fatigue are understood as the same thing,  fatigue and tiredness are not the same. Tiredness is a short-term lack of energy that usually gets better with rest or sleep. Fatigue usually refers to regular and constant mental or physical exhaustion. Let’s have a look at the causes and treatments of fatigue here.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue refers to extreme tiredness or feeling severely overtired. Many conditions, medical issues, and lifestyle factors could cause fatigue. Each person may get tired at various times. Some extreme fatigue makes it hard to wake up in the morning, and it continues throughout the day. It might be hard for them to perform their usual activities and go through them over the course of the day.

Fatigue will make them think they have a desire to sleep even after getting sufficient sleep. It might not let one feel refreshed even after they rest or sleep. One could relieve this condition by changing some habits. If any of the above-mentioned conditions cause fatigue, then a healthcare provider could help manage it.

Fatigue Causes

There are many health conditions and lifestyle factors that cause fatigue. Here are some of the causes of fatigue:

1) Heart and lung conditions

Heart and lung health conditions could negatively impact the blood flow in the body and may result in fatigue. Those heart and lung conditions that could cause fatigue include arrhythmias, asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), valvular heart disease, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure. In some cases, the bad heart and lung conditions might lead to inflammation and then cause fatigue.

2) Sleep problems

Several factors, like physical disturbances, medical issues, and psychiatric disorders, cause sleep problems. But many sleep problems lead to fatigue. The sleep factors that cause fatigue are working late,sleep apnea, working shifts, narcolepsy, jet lag, insomnia, reflux esophagitis, and chemicals and substances. Other factors, like Mineral deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies, drinking alcohol, drinking caffeinated beverages, using nicotine products, and some poisoning affecting sleep could lead to fatigue.

3) Mental health problems

Several mental problems, like anxiety, stress, emotional burnout, eating disorders, boredom, grief, and some life events (like love failure and getting a divorce), could lead to fatigue. Fatigue is believed to be an outgrowth of clinical depression, mostly because of the depression or its related issues. 

4) Drugs and medications

There are many drugs and medications that could cause fatigue. Those drugs and medications that cause fatigue include some antidepressants, antihypertensives, antihistamines, anxiety medications, statins, sedatives, steroids, etc. Some medication withdrawals from long-used medicines might also cause fatigue until the body adjusts. The changes in the dosage of drugs and medications could also be a cause of this fatigue.

5) Metabolic and Endocrine Problems

Health conditions and many other factors that could affect hormones might result in fatigue. Those conditions that result in fatigue include kidney disease, Cushing’s syndrome, electrolyte problems, diabetes, thyroid conditions, pregnancy, hormonal contraception, birth control pills, and organ implantation.

6) Medical Conditions

Many medical conditions result in fatigue due to the changes in the human body at that time. Those medical conditions that lead to fatigue include diabetes, anaemia, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, weakened immune system function, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease. Even some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, might also result in fatigue. 

7) Some infections

There are many infections that are caused by different factors and conditions. Though all the infections does not result in fatigue, yet some infections lead to the fatigue. Those disease infections that could lead to fatigue include infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, HIV, flu, tuberculosis, hepatitis, malaria, etc. To say more accurately, fatigue might be a symptom of some infection.

8) Chronic pain

Chronic pain might affect people’s peace and result in fatigue. Those who have chronic pain are prone to fatigue as they wake up throughout the night. Those people might feel tired and poorly rested due to the insufficient sleep. The chronic pain, along with a lack of sleep, could result in extreme tiredness and fatigue.

9) Obesity (overweight) and underweight

Maintaining a normal weight as per your height is a better choice for leading a healthy life. Being obese could raise the fatigue risk by simply increasing the risk of many health conditions. Experiencing joint or muscle pain due to a heavy weight could result in more fatigue.

At the same time, people who are underweight might also feel fatigue, which would depend on the cause of their underweight. Some chronic diseases, such as eating disorders, cancer, etc., could cause weight loss and result in fatigue.

10) Excess or too little physical movement

Excessive exercise or a lack of exercise could simply be the leading cause of fatigue. Some people with fatigue might not have the potential to exercise, and then a lack of exercise could lead to further fatigue. Decreasing the exercise might still result in deconditioning, making it more tiring to do a physical task. Fatigue might affect healthy people after they engage in long-term heavy mental or physical activity.

Fatigue Treatment

Before treating fatigue, a doctor will find out the underlying cause behind it. After finding out the causes, the proper treatment might help mitigate fatigue. Here are some of the solutions that could treat the fatigue.

1) Sleep

Good sleep will improve one’s brain performance and health. This ensures that you are protected from the risk of some diseases and disorders. Thus, good-quality sleep helps in managing fatigue.

Here are some simple tips to have good sleep quality:

  • Do not go to sleep immediately after eating. Give yourself some time to sleep after eating.
  • Sleep and wake up at the same time daily, even on holidays. 
  • Ensure more than once that your sleeping room is very quiet and dark.
  • Avoid spending time on screens (using a phone, watching TV, etc.) an hour before sleeping to have a good quality sleep.
  • Keep the room neat and cool (without so much heat) where you sleep.
  • During your bedtime, gradually slow down activities both physically and mentally.
  • If you are a music lover, you could take a warm bath or listen to some soothing music, which could give you better sleep.

2) Eating and drinking habits

The food we eat is one of the factors that determines the energy level of a person. So, eating a healthy and balanced diet could lead to better health and better sleep.

Here are some tips to control your fatigue:

  • Eat small meals in between the main food throughout the day.
  • Avoid eating highly processed food and stick to a healthy diet.
  • Eat snacks containing low sugar and low fat.
  • Make sure that you add some fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon more than three times a day.
  • Drink plenty of water; it may be warm or cool, depending on your body condition.

3) Physical activity

Do some day-to-day physical activities as per your ability. This will help reduce fatigue. But too much physical work, which could also lead to fatigue, You could consult your doctor and sports therapist if you start to exercise. Doing everyday work is itself a physical activity.

4) Yogic Practices

Ancient yoga has proved to be the solution for many mental disorders. Several yogic practices, like doing some postures, breathing, meditation, and other techniques, will help treat fatigue. Some breathing exercises in yoga help beat stress. While asanas in yoga help improve the physical health of the body.

Symptoms of fatigue

Exhaustion from physical or mental activity is the major symptom of fatigue. A person with fatigue will not feel refreshed after resting or sleeping. The general symptoms related to fatigue are:

  • Aching or sore muscles
  • Apathy and less motivation
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty in focusing or learning new tasks
  • Gastrointestinal issues like abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Moodiness
  • Slowed or delayed response time
  • Vision issues like blurriness.

Fatigue Diagnosis

Diagnosing fatigue could be hard, as the causes and symptoms of fatigue may vary.  Diagnostic tests could help in finding out the underlying cause of the fatigue. Many tests, like urine tests, imaging scans, mental health questionnaires, and blood tests, might be needed depending on one’s symptoms. These tests could diagnose physical causes like infections, anaemia, liver problems, hormonal problems, or kidney problems. If they diagnose the cause of this problem, they will give some appropriate treatments.

The doctor might raise questions like:

Symptoms of fatigue.

  • Quality of the person’s sleep.
  • Quality of the fatigue.
  • Patterns of fatigue.
  • Person’s emotional state.
  • Stress levels of a person.
  • Sleep patterns.
  • Lifestyle habits like a person’s diet, alcohol consumption, drug use, caffeine use,
  • Work timings.
  • Signs of illness and the types of medications they consume.

A person can help diagnose by recording the total time period they sleep each night and the number of times they wake up every night.

When do I see a doctor?

If you often get tired, it’s good to talk to your healthcare provider. You should consult your doctor if: 

  • You’re having a hard time doing daily activities or going to work.
  • You feel the fatigue for more than a few days.
  • You get fatigue suddenly, without any clear reason like illness.
  • You are above the age of 65.
  • You are losing weight.
  • Fatigue may sometimes lead to a serious health condition. You must get the help of your doctor when you have fatigue along with other symptoms like:
  • Heartbeat is fast (tachycardia) or slow (bradycardia) unusually.
  • Shortness of breath or pain in your chest, arm, or upper back.
  • Fluttering (heart palpitations) or irregular (arrhythmia) heartbeat.
  • Some vision issues
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself
  • Suicidal thoughts

Types of Fatigue

The three types of fatigue are transient fatigue, cumulative fatigue, and circadian fatigue.

Transient fatigue is a severe form of fatigue that happens due to a lack of sleep or being awake for a longer period of time for one or two days.

Cumulative fatigue happens due to a series of days of repeated mild sleep restrictions. It might also occur due to the extended hours awake.

Circadian fatigue indicates low performance during the night, especially at the time of a person’s window of circadian low (WOCL).

Fatigue Prevention

Prevention is not a problem since there are many factors that could lead to fatigue as a symptom. Some symptoms of fatigue could happen gradually, which could make it hard for a person to find out if there is a problem. Diagnosing fatigue as soon as possible allows a person to get medical attention and identify an earlier diagnosis of the cause behind it.

Self-awareness of a person’s decrease in body performance or fatigue is mostly difficult, as a person will see only slight changes in their daily activities. So, a family member’s or friend’s outside notice might be needed to find out the difference.


Fatigue commonly refers to an extreme lack of energy and a sense of tiredness that could interfere with a person’s day-to-day activities. It’s very common to feel tired sometimes. However, many feel short-term, periodical fatigue because of sleep disturbances, illness, travel, diet changes, or medication changes.

The signs and symptoms of fatigue might be physical, mental, or emotional. But it could become worse with time. They might seem to occur a few hours after activity or exercise, or mostly on the next day. Fatigue might make it difficult for a person to perform their day-to-day activities, like business, work, homecare work, and caring for their family. You could consult your doctor if you find any symptoms of fatigue. Your healthcare provider might identify the reason behind it and provide you with proper treatment.


1) What are the three types of fatigue?

Commonly, there are three types of fatigue. They are transient, cumulative, and circadian fatigues.

2) Can anxiety lead to fatigue?

The most common symptoms of anxiety are fatigue, increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle aches, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, headaches, digestion, tingling sensations, and discomfort.

3) Discuss the differences between fatigue and tiredness.

People often misunderstand the terms tiredness. Tiredness refers to a short-term energy lack, while fatigue is a regular mental or physical exhaustion. Tiredness usually goes away with rest or sleep. Fatigue will affect your work, social interactions, or capability to do daily activities. 

4) What is the age at which you start feeling tired?

Many people begin to feel a decrease in their energy levels while they reach their mid-thirties. This decrease in their energy levels could result in changes in metabolism, hormonal changes, and lifestyle factors (like exercise, diet, and stress).


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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