FATIGUE & STRESSWhat Is Fatigue?
Fatigue is something anyone can experience. It is not unique to a single age group, gender, or race. In fact, most adults experience fatigue at some point in their lives. About one in five people report feeling unusually tired at any given time, and one in 10 say they suffer from prolonged periods of fatigue. You understand how common it is, but still — exactly what is fatigue?
So, What is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a symptom, not a medical condition or disease itself. It is a feeling of being unusually tired or weak that does not go away after rest. People often describe fatigue in different ways. Some experience it as a physical symptom, such as muscle weakness and an overall lack of energy. Others experience mental fatigue, including lowered motivation and difficulty concentrating. Symptoms can also manifest as a combination of both mental and physical fatigue.
Reasons for fatigue vary from person to person. Any of the following factors can contribute to fatigue, alone or in combination.
Active Illness — Illnesses such as strong colds or flu cause extra stress on the body and can bring on fatigue. Chronic diseases like diabetes or arthritis can have the same effect.
Chronic Pain — Chronic pain such as what comes with arthritis, physical injuries, or spinal problems can wear a person down and cause fatigue.
Stress and Anxiety — High levels of stress and anxiety take both a physical and mental toll, especially over prolonged periods.
Improper Sleep Habits — Problems like sleep interruptions or not sleeping enough hours will lower energy and leave you feeling tired.
Lack Of Exercise — An inactive lifestyle can lead to weakness in the muscles as well as an overall feeling of low energy.
Poor Dietary Habits — Things like skipping meals or consuming high levels of sugars and stimulants, can leave both the mind and body feeling fatigued.
Psychological Factors — Periods of depression, grief or other intense psychological states will lower both mental and physical energy levels.
Hormonal Imbalances — Hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism, or simply suboptimal hormone levels are strong causes of fatigue.
The primary symptom of fatigue is a feeling of weakness or tiredness that does not go away with regular rest. It is different from simply being sleepy, which resolves itself after a good night’s sleep or a restful nap.
People often describe their fatigue as having some or all of the following factors as well:
+ Body and limbs feel heavy
+ Inability to concentrate
+ Unusual lack of motivation
+ Feeling low or overly emotional
+ A feeling of drained energy
+ Exhaustion similar to that accompanying an illness like the flu
In some cases, there is no definitive explanation for the onset of fatigue. It generally lasts anywhere from a few hours up to a few days. Severe cases may last longer, but they are not as common.
In most cases, fatigue improves on its own with some simple lifestyle changes. The following recommendations will help most people suffering from fatigue:
+ Eat a well-balanced diet.
+ Follow a consistent sleep routine.
+ Get regular exercise.
+ Avoid stimulants and too much sugar.
If practicing these healthy habits doesn’t bring relief for your fatigue, or if it has been affecting you for more than a month, you should speak with your doctor to find out the underlying cause of your fatigue.
Learn more about fatigue in a free consultation with the Hotze Health & Wellness Center.