Everyone feels tired from time to time. Fatigue is feeling severely overtired. Fatigue makes it hard to get up in the morning, go to work, do your usual activities and make it through your day. You might have an overwhelming urge to sleep, and you may not feel refreshed after you rest or sleep.
Fatigue often occurs along with other symptoms, such as:
- Depression and lack of desire to do the activities you once enjoyed.
- Trouble concentrating or focusing.
- Very low energy and motivation.
- Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability.
- Muscle weakness and pain.
Other signs of fatigue include:
- Tired eyes
- Tired legs
- Whole-body tiredness
- Stiff shoulders
- Malaise (discomfort/uneasiness)
- Boredom or lack of motivations
How can my doctor manage fatigue?
To find out what is causing your fatigue, your healthcare provider will ask questions about your lifestyle and medications and will conduct a physical examination. They might order some lab tests to test blood and urine. If you are a woman of child-bearing age, your provider will probably order a pregnancy test.
To relieve fatigue, your provider will treat (or help you manage) the condition or disorder that’s causing it. Depending on your health, your treatment plan may include a combination of medication, exercise, or therapy. If you’re taking a medication that makes you feel exhausted, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of stopping the medication or trying another one.
How can I ease or relieve fatigue?
If a medical condition isn’t causing your fatigue, lifestyle changes may improve your symptoms. To reduce fatigue, you can:
- Practice good sleep habits: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Don’t drink caffeine, use electronics, or exercise right before bed. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Avoid toxins: Don’t use illegal drugs, and drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
- Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet and plenty of water will keep your body nourished and hydrated.
- Manage stress: Yoga, mindfulness, meditation and regular exercise can help you relieve stress and gain more energy.
- See your healthcare provider: Make an appointment to rule out infections, disease, illness, vitamin deficiencies and other health conditions. You should also talk to your provider about medications you’re taking to see if they are causing your symptoms.
- Exercise often: Regular exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, vigorous exercise can help you feel more energetic once you get used to it. But exercising too much can cause fatigue, so talk to your provider about what’s best for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Talk to your healthcare provider about your ideal weight, and try to stay within that range.
WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR
When should I call my doctor about fatigue?
It’s normal to feel tired now and then. Everyone experiences occasional, brief fatigue due to illness, sleep disturbances, travel or changes in diet or medication. But you should talk to your healthcare provider if you’re tired all the time. Call your provider if:
- Your fatigue lasts longer than a few days
- You’re having a hard time going to work or performing daily activities.
- There isn’t a clear reason (such as a recent illness) for your fatigue.
- It comes on suddenly.
- You’re older (over age 65).
- You’ve also been losing weight.