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Chronic tiredness – what causes and what illnesses it might hide

Tiredness is a common thing among people of all ages, and can be caused by factors varying from the obvious lack of sleep to what we eat or drink, or serious medical conditions.

While not unusual, when tiredness becomes constant and persistent with no apparent reasons and it starts affecting our everyday life, it might hide a serious health issue.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has reported that 1 in 5 people feels unusually tired and 1 in 10 suffer from prolonged fatigue. Moreover, a series of British studies have shown that almost 20% of car accidents are related to tiredness and fatigue, resulting in serious or even fatal injuries.

What causes tiredness?

The causes of tiredness can be either physical or psychological, or even both. If you feel the symptoms of tiredness extending on for an unusual period of time, begin by identifying the parts of your life that might be tiring you out, or have triggered tiredness at some point.

Are you getting enough sleep? Is your life stressful? Do you eat properly? Ask yourself these questions and rule out any of these factors before worrying about a serious illness. Here are some of the most common causes of tiredness:

  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Not getting enough sleep, either caused by bad sleeping habits or sleep disorders such as insomnia
  • Coping with daily stress
  • Dehydration
  • Unhealthy diet

When caused by these factors above, tiredness is easy to combat. Try to stay hydrated, adopt a healthy and balanced diet, try to reduce caffeine intake and exercise more often. Also, try to reduce the stress factors in your life as much as possible and use meditations techniques to relax whenever necessary. Here are some tips on how to reduce tiredness:

  • Improve your sleep – you can try to take a hot bath before bed, meditate, reduce the time you spend sleeping during the day and try not to eat or drink late at night;
  • Exercise – in the long run, exercising not only makes you feel more energetic, but also improves your physical condition. Start small, with simple walks, then slowly increase the time you spend exercising.
  • Try to quit caffeine drinks – a lot of drinks such as coffee, tea or ‘energy boost’ drinks contain caffeine, and consuming these might interfere with your sleep. Try reducing your caffeine intake gradually, and see the results.

Can persistent tiredness hide serious illnesses?

Sometimes, getting more sleep, exercising or reducing caffeine might not be enough to heal us from tiredness. In those cases, other factors should be considered, and it might be time to ask your doctor about it.

Yes, tiredness can often be caused by diseases that we might or might not know that we suffer from. They range from minor health conditions to serious and painful ones that need immediate treatment.

Among the illnesses that can be hidden behind tiredness, there can be found some general, glandular or muscular conditions, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Chronic diseases
  • Cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Aside from physical problems, the most common psychological diseases that can cause severe tiredness are anxiety and depression, emotional shock or everyday difficulties, whether it’s positive or negative events.

When dealing with a weakened immune system, common tiredness and fatigue can easily turn into CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disorder characterized by extreme tiredness that is not healed through sleep and rest. While the causes are still uncertain, there are some symptoms that you should pay attention to. Here are the most common:

  • Loss of memory and concentration
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Muscle pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Unrefreshing sleep

CFS can also be caused by a series of health factors and, while some people may simply have a predisposition for the disorder, others might find triggers in viral infections, issues of the immune system or hormonal imbalances.

Factors that can increase the risk of chronic fatigue syndrome include age (CFS can often occur at ages 40 to 50), sex (women are more prone to develop CFS) or stress.

According to specialists at the Mayo Clinic, undiagnosed CFS can be responsible for complications such as depression, social isolation, lifestyle restrictions and increased work absences.

By keeping up with a healthy and active routine, you can prevent chronic tiredness and chronic fatigue syndrome. Remember to stay hydrated, keep a balanced diet, exercise more often and find ways to reduce daily stress.

However, do not hesitate to contact your doctor as soon as you notice persistent or excessive tiredness that you can’t seem to justify.

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