The Top 10 Causes Of Fatigue

First, there are two types of fatigue to note:

A) Physical Fatigue - when you can’t get out of bed in the morning or climbing stairs was no hassle before but now you can’t do it without getting out of breath, or you experience muscle weakness. You may have one of a dozen predisposed conditions – medical or non-medical - creeping up on you from too many late nights to something more serious. The most common cause being the ‘good old’ ageing process. There are then various levels of ‘alarm’ to raise, determinate upon the identity of the various causes of physical fatigue.

B) Mental Fatigue – when you find your concentration is not what it used to be, or you feel very sleepy; the underlying causes range from overwork, long-term physical exhaustion, long hours of focused work- especially driving, to bereavement, stress, depression, personality disorders, guilt and anxiety.

Both of the above feature in the top ten causes of fatigue:

1) Mental health – stress, grief, re-locating, divorce, losing a job, economic hardship, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, clinical depression, insomnia and boredom.

2) Metabolic and endocrine conditions - anaemia, kidney and liver disease, Cushing’s disease, diabetes and electrolyte imbalance.

3) Medications and drugs – certain antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-hypertensives, anti-anxiety drugs, statins and medical withdrawal symptoms.

4) Heart and lung conditions - arrhythmias, asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), valvular heart disease, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure among others, can cause fatigue

5) Lack of sleep – shift work, late nights, jet-lag, sleep apnoea, narcolepsy, insomnia and reflux esophagitis can lead to a lack of sleep causing fatigue.

6) Chemicals and substances – too much caffeine (in beverages and certain medications) vitamin and mineral deficiencies, poisoning.

7) Diseases, treatments, states and conditions - cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, massive blood loss, and weakened immune systems. Some infections that cause tiredness include malaria, tuberculosis (TB), infectious mononucleosis, also known as glandular fever, cytomegalovirus, HIV infection, flu, and hepatitis, among others.

8) Chronic pain - some diseases and conditions where pain is the main symptom, such as fibromyalgia, are also linked to other conditions, such as sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome. Patients with chronic pain often wake up tired, even after sleeping for a long time, as pain disrupts sleep. The combination of pain and lack of sleep can cause persistent fatigue.

9) Overweight or underweight - someone underweight becomes fatigued due to lack of nourishment or less muscle strength. Someone overweight may evidence conditions where fatigue is a common symptom, such as sleep apnoea and diabetes.

10) Too much or too little activity – fatigue due to too much activity is usually temporary and rapid recovery experienced, such as after a workout at the gym or participation in sport. Too much mental activity such as working or driving for long hours without a break. A person who never exercises may feel tired and further lack of body movement causes fatigue.

Many of us, however, are simply weary without any medical cause. Look out for the follow-up article on combatting other causes of fatigue and their easy remedy.


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