Feeling flat and exhausted with no energy – even before you walk out the door in the morning full version of plague inc?
Fatigue has become part of our busy lifestyles: not getting enough sleep, a poor diet, lack of exercise and more stress are all things we struggle with every day.
All of these factors put a huge amount of strain on our bodies. Sure, it’s normal to go through periods of short-term fatigue when there’s a deadline to meet, or when life is just particularly busy. If it carries on for too long, though, it can affect your mental capacity and physical health. The bad news? That can lead to some serious long-term health issues.
To combat fatigue it is important to know what is behind it. Have a look at this check list, how many boxes do you tick?
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet (including too much caffeine and alcohol intake!)
- Lack of exercise or too much exercise
- Other Chronic Medical conditions (Anaemia, Thyroid dysfunction, Diabetes, chronic fatigue Syndrome)
Did you tick a few of those? And that’s just the short list! Many of the causes come down to common sense and, with some effort and discipline, you can fix them. If you ticked the first 3 boxes in the fatigue check list, here are some things you could try:
- Diet: Drinking a cup of coffee and reaching for a sweet snack to boost your energy actually has the opposite effect! They make a sudden spike in your blood sugar, and then comes the big drop, leaving you feeling more tired. If you’re a coffee-lover try to limit it to not more than 3 cups a day, and no sugar with the coffee! Also, try to eat small regular healthy meals, avoiding sugary foods, take-aways, fried foods etc. These contain little nutritional value and they’re terrible for energy levels.
- Sleep: Make sure you get to bed at a decent time and that your sleep is restful. A quiet and dark room is best – ban all electronic equipment from the bedroom! No TV or computers, and switch off your phone! Make sure there are at least 2 hours after your evening meal before you go to bed and avoid caffeine after 5pm, as well as alcohol. If you are having difficulty sleeping speak to your GP
- Exercise: 30min of vigorous exercise (running/ swimming/ aerobics for example) 3-4 times a week will give you an energy boost like no other. Many people think exercise will make them more tired, but in fact the opposite is true – exercise releases our feel-good hormones and the more you move, over time the more energy you will have. Give it a try!
When should you see the doctor?
Sometimes there’s a more serious cause for fatigue that needs intervention from your doctor. So when should you seek medical advice?
- If you have been feeling fatigued for more than 2 weeks and there is no apparent reason for it
- If you are losing significant amounts of weight
- If your bowel habits have changed
- If you feel out of breath, or your heart feels like it’s beating irregularly
- If you are feeling depressed
When talking about fatigue, we also have to mention Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is a poorly understood condition that is characterised by extreme fatigue, poor memory and concentration, muscle pain, enlarged glands in the neck, sore throat and headaches, to name a few. These symptoms should be there for longer than 6 months.
It’s thought to be caused by either the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) or possibly the Herpes 6 virus, but there’s no conclusive evidence for this. General thought is that a combination of factors lead to this disorder, with stress and lifestyle having major influence. Importantly, to be diagnosed with this your doctor will need to rule out all other potential medical causes.
The bottom line: don’t ignore that fatigued feeling – it’s your body telling you that something is up or something need to change.. So take action!