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Fatigue: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention

Fatigue is a feeling marked by tiredness, lack of energy, lack of concentration, and lack of motivation, affecting both mental and physical health of a person [1] . The condition is often mistaken with drowsiness, a feeling describing the need to sleep. Fatigue can be mild or serious depending upon the underlying medical conditions.

Fatigue is a common condition experienced by many people across the world. It is important to remember that fatigue is just a condition, not a disease as it is a common symptom related to numerous illnesses. A report shows that 97% of the people at the workplace are at risk of getting diagnosed with at least one symptom of fatigue [2] .

Symptoms Of Fatigue

Fatigue can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying disease. However, other symptoms associated with it are as follows:

  • Weakness [1]
  • Getting tired even after a small physical activity
  • Hypersomnia [3]
  • Lack of motivation to start or continue with the work
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Shortness of breath [4]
  • Increased heartbeat [5]
  • Vertigo
  • Excess urination [6]
  • Dry skin

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Causes Of Fatigue

Many factors contribute to fatigue. It also occurs as a side effect of certain medications. In other cases, the cause of fatigue is not at all diagnosed. However, common causes of fatigue are as follows:

  • Lifestyle factors like unhealthy eating, use of alcohol and drugs, jet lag disorders and many more
  • Infections like hepatitis, flu, and tuberculosis [7]
  • Metabolic disorders like diabetes [8] and hypothyroidism
  • Medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, antianxiety drugs, and steroids
  • Vitamin D, B12, iron and folic acid deficiency
  • Mental health problems like anxiety, depression, grief, drug abuse, traumatic brain injury, and eating disorders [2]
  • Cardiac and lungs disorders like asthma, congestive heart failure, and COPD

Diagnosis Of Fatigue

The first step to diagnosing fatigue in a patient is evaluating the medical history of a patient and looking for any previous health conditions including patient's social situation, alcohol or drug abuse and their physiological state of mind. Depending on the above-mentioned condition, the condition is evaluated further by the following tests.

  • Complete blood count or CBC test [9]
  • Glucose test
  • Creatinine test to measure the functions of the kidney
  • Creatine phosphokinase or CPK test
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH test [10]
  • Ferritin test
  • ESR screening test
  • CT scan and ECG in severe cases

How To Treat Fatigue

To treat fatigue, the underlying cause needs to be identified first. If the condition is lowering your quality of life, people should immediately seek medical help. In case, a doctor suggests some tests, it is probably to identify undiagnosed medical problems which can be tackled easily by medications. For example, if a person is diagnosed with high blood pressure thus, taking medicines to maintain high blood pressure may improve their condition and treat fatigue simultaneously.

However, in some people, a simple improvement in their lifestyle may lower the symptoms of fatigue.

Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Fatigue

A few changes in your lifestyle can help prevent fatigue [11] . The changes are as follows:

  • Eat healthy and timely
  • Stay hydrated all the time
  • Go to bed on time and wake up timely
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practise yoga or other relaxing activities
  • Avoid tobacco, drugs, or alcohol in a large amount

These Exercises Help Cancer Patients Get Rid Of Fatigue

Foods To Beat Fatigue

  • Good source of proteins like eggs, nuts, fish, and meat [12] .
  • Cereals
  • Fresh fruits
  • Oatmeal
  • Dry fruits like raisins
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Yoghurt
  • Whole grain toast
  • Banana
  • Chia seeds
View Article References
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  2. [2] Rose, D. M., Seidler, A., Nübling, M., Latza, U., Brähler, E., Klein, E. M., … Beutel, M. E. (2017). Associations of fatigue to work-related stress, mental and physical health in an employed community sample. BMC psychiatry, 17(1), 167. doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1237-y
  3. [3] Baldwin, D. S., & Papakostas, G. I. (2006). Symptoms of fatigue and sleepiness in major depressive disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 67, 9-15.
  4. [4] Ravindran, M., Adewuyi, O., Zheng, Y., Rayhan, R. U., Le, U., Timbol, C., … Baraniuk, J. (2012). Dyspnea in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): comparison of two prospective cross-sectional studies. Global journal of health science, 5(2), 94–110. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v5n2p94
  5. [5] Nelesen, R., Dar, Y., Thomas, K., & Dimsdale, J. E. (2008). The relationship between fatigue and cardiac functioning. Archives of internal medicine, 168(9), 943–949. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.9.943
  6. [6] Toda, K., & Kimura, H. (2006). Efficacy of neurotropin in chronic fatigue syndrome: A case report. Hiroshima journal of medical sciences, 55(1), 35.
  7. [7] Stormorken, E., Jason, L. A., & Kirkevold, M. (2015). Fatigue in adults with post-infectious fatigue syndrome: a qualitative content analysis. BMC nursing, 14, 64. doi:10.1186/s12912-015-0115-5
  8. [8] Fritschi, C., Quinn, L., Hacker, E. D., Penckofer, S. M., Wang, E., Foreman, M., & Ferrans, C. E. (2012). Fatigue in women with type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes educator, 38(5), 662–672. doi:10.1177/0145721712450925
  9. [9] Clark, V. L., & Kruse, J. A. (1990). Clinical methods: the history, physical, and laboratory examinations. Jama, 264(21), 2808-2809.
  10. [10] Fischer, S., Markert, C., Strahler, J., Doerr, J. M., Skoluda, N., Kappert, M., & Nater, U. M. (2018). Thyroid Functioning and Fatigue in Women With Functional Somatic Syndromes - Role of Early Life Adversity. Frontiers in physiology, 9, 564. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00564
  11. [11] Roberts D. (2018). Chronic fatigue syndrome and quality of life. Patient related outcome measures, 9, 253–262. doi:10.2147/PROM.S155642
  12. [12] Jones, K., & Probst, Y. (2017). Role of dietary modification in alleviating chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms: a systematic review. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 41(4), 338-344.
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