Why do I always feel fatigued?
Fatigue is a common issue for many people, and as a physician, I often
hear this in my practice. Finding the origin of the fatigue and treating
it can be challenging, but with some simple steps, my patients and I can
work together as a team to find a solution. Below is the process I follow
and the advice I provide my patients:
Start with focusing on making some positive lifestyle changes, such as
improved sleep, a healthy diet, taking multivitamins, and ensuring adequate
- The most common cause of fatigue is too little sleep. Most adults need
seven to eight hours a night, but some may need as little as five hours
or as much as 10 hours of sleep a night.
- Being dehydrated can make us feel sluggish. Water helps to flush out toxins,
maintain hydration, and keep good energy levels.
- A proper diet is important. Not eating enough, or having the wrong foods
can be a problem. Select foods that are high in protein and avoid simple
Give these lifestyle changes two to three weeks to take effect. If you
are still feeling fatigued, it may be a good time to schedule an appointment
with your primary care physician.
During your appointment, your doctor will want to conduct a thorough medical
history and check for any medical conditions that may be contributing
to fatigue, such as anemia,
sleep apnea, and thyroid disease.
Anemia– This occurs when there is a lower than normal level of red blood
cells which carry oxygen to cells and tissues throughout the body. Anemia
can be diagnosed with a physical exam and blood test.
Depression– A mental disorder that can present with multiple physical symptoms.
Your physician can screen you for depression.
Diabetes– High blood sugar levels can slow circulation and prevent oxygen
and nutrients from reaching all parts of the body. This can be diagnosed
with a blood test.
Sleep Apnea– When a person has shallow breathing or pauses in breathing while
sleeping this results in poor sleep quality. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed
with a sleep study that monitors sleep patterns, breathing changes, and
Thyroid Disease – Having an underactive thyroid is quite common. It can be easily
diagnosed with a physical exam and blood test.
While this is not a comprehensive list of all causes of fatigue, it is
a good start to determining the origin of your fatigue. If you are concerned
about fatigue, it is important to seek advice from a physician.