Nearly everyone experiences fatigue at one time or another. It can usually be traced to a specific cause and often resolves on its own.
Long-lasting fatigue, however, can have profound effects on your health, affecting your energy level, ability to concentrate and emotional and psychological well-being.
What can cause fatigue?
According to the Mayo Clinic, fatigue can usually be traced to one or more of your habits or routines, particularly lack of exercise. It's also commonly related to depression. On occasion, fatigue is a symptom of other underlying conditions that require medical treatment.
Taking an honest inventory of things that might be responsible for your fatigue is often the first step toward relief. Fatigue may be related to:
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Excess physical activity
- Jet lag
- Lack of physical activity
- Lack of sleep
- Medications, such as antihistamines, cough medicines
- Unhealthy eating habits
Unrelenting exhaustion may be a sign of a condition or an effect of the drugs or therapies used to treat it, such as:
- Acute liver failure
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic infection or inflammation
- Chronic kidney disease
- Depression (major depressive disorder)
- Meralgia paresthetica
- Heart disease
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain drugs, heart drugs and antidepressants
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pain that's persistent
- Sleep apnea
- Traumatic brain injury
When to see a doctor
Get emergency help if your fatigue is related to a mental health problem and your symptoms also include:
- Thoughts of harming yourself or of suicide
- Concern that you may harm someone else
Also get emergency care if your fatigue is accompanied by any of the following:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
- Feeling that you might pass out
- Severe abdominal, pelvic or back pain
Schedule a doctor's visit if...
Call for an appointment with your doctor if your fatigue has persisted for two or more weeks despite making an effort to rest, reduce stress, choose a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids.
Source: Mayo Clinic