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It may be common to feel tired all the time, but it isn’t normal. Experts say that lots of health complaints can make one feels tired,
including ailments such as anaemia, thyroid problems and depression, reports Sade Oguntola.
Tiredness seems to be a modern plague. As a consequence of our busy and stressful modern lifestyles, most people will at some time experience tiredness. On most occasions, fatigue can be relieved after a good night’s sleep.
Being tired is an everyday experience that makes people to want to stay a little longer in bed or get a good night’s sleep. While everyone is able to function on less sleep than they prefer, if you are consistently under-sleeping, pertetual tiredness will be the result.
Paradoxically, experts have found that no fewer than 10 per cent of people at every point in time are suffering from persistent tiredness.
While some complain of lack of energy, feeling exhausted, unwell or sleepy, others find it hard concentrating at work, making decisions or carrying out their daily tasks.
On most occasions, tiredness can be relieved after a good night’s sleep. However, this is not the case for individuals experiencing persistent tiredness, whose qualities of life are significantly affected as a result.
Unfortunately, tiredness could be caused by several factors ranging from a recent illness, current illness, pregnancy, lifestyle, work problems, bereavement, vitamin deficiency to boredom.
In some instances, merely trying out some lifestyle changes such as eating nutritious foods, sleeping at regular intervals and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine intake for a week or two might take care of complaints of tiredness.
However, establishing what exactly is causing those awful feelings of being tired all the time is important because tiredness can be a serious problem if there is no obvious reason for it, it goes on for a long time or it is so bad that it prevents enjoying and getting on with daily activities.
Where tiredness still persists, experts listed common problems that might be responsible:
Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions and regular tiredness, particularly tiredness following meals, is a common symptom of diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes are unable to use glucose in their body leading it to build up in the blood.
According to Dr Taiwo Raimi, a consultant endocrinologist, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, tiredness in a diabetic is as a result of an imbalance between the level of blood glucose and the amount or effectiveness of circulating insulin.
Symptoms of diabetes include extreme fatigue much beyond regular exhaustion, acute levels of thirst, weight loss, constant hunger, vaginal yeast infections, frequent urination and blurred vision.
There are two basic tests for diabetes - the plasma glucose test, and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The plasma glucose test evaluates an individual’s blood glucose levels on an empty stomach, while the OGTT requires blood samples before and after drinking glucose syrup.
Anaemia causes extreme fatigue mainly due to low red blood cell counts amongst other hemoglobin related abnormalities. “The blood is like fuel in a car. When there is no fuel in a car, it stops. So once the blood volume is depleted in terms of quantity and volume, it is bound that the individual will feel lethargic,” said Dr Kareem Oyeniran, a medical doctor with the Oyo State Hospital Management Board.
According to Dr Oyeniran, anaemia is confirmed by a test to determine the Packed Cell Volume (PCV) and subsequently treatments can be prescribed to correct blood shortage.
Extreme fatigue, poor quality sleep, low concentration, rapid chest pains and headaches are some of the prominent symptoms of anaemia.
Extreme fatigue is a common complaint in people with heart problem. “Being fatigued in the case of heart means probably, the heart is not pumping enough blood. Basically, one need enough oxygen to have energy, but when sufficient blood is not pumped by the heart, fatigue occurs,” stated Dr Abiodun Adeoye, a consultant cardiologist at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State.
Dr Adeoye declared that by the time an individual with heart problems starts to feel fatigued, the possibility that the heart is almost failing is very high.
“For instance, I always give a simple analogue to make people understand: A farmer who initially can walk to the farm and make 200 heaps without resting and now discovered that as time goes on, he needs to rest a little bit after 100 heaps before he continues or rest on the way to farm. That is not the same. Heart problem is a gradual problem, the deterioration is gradual.”
If your thyroid gland is not working properly - if it is underactive - you might feel exhausted all the time. When one suffers from thyroid problem, even daily activities that involve minimal physical involvement seem daunting. According to Dr Williams Balogun, a consultant endocrinologist, UCH, Ibadan, hypothyroidism (the under-production of thyroid hormones), greatly affect energy levels.
“For instance, the person will feel so tired, may be walking so slowly, will be gaining weight and feel unable to participate both mentally and physically in a lot of activities.”
Hypothyroidism symptoms include extreme fatigue, difficulty in concentration, water retention and subsequent weight gain, heavier menstrual flow, and constipation. These thyroid conditions are easily detected with a blood test.
Depression can lead to tiredness for many reasons. It could be the depression itself, or the patient may not sleep properly and feel tired as a result. Although symptoms of depressions vary greatly, some of them include extreme lethargy, low energy, severe alterations in eating and sleeping patterns, feelings of negativity, hopelessness and lack of self worth, irritability or restlessness.
Sleep apnea (temporarily stopping breathing when asleep) is a disorder in which one always wake up feeling extremely tired. This is due to brief interruptions in breathing while at rest. Sleep apnea symptoms include extreme lethargy and tiredness, high blood pressure, and changes in breathing pattern, amongst others.