Many people take tiredness for granted. After each day of hustle and bustle, they come home dog tired and ready to hit the bed immediately.
Those who drive sometimes discover that they are dozing off behind the steering; while those who commute in commercial vehicles simply take to sleeping throughout the journey and may have to be woken up at the last bus stop.
Tiredness is a part of the human nature, no doubt; but when it becomes a way of life, such that you’re perpetually fagged out, physicians are saying that there may be more to it and that you may need to visit the hospital to ascertain the real reasons behind your constant tiredness.
Symptoms of fatigue include weakness, lack of energy, constant tiredness or exhaustion, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and/or difficulty starting and completing tasks.
Of course, in general, though your dietary habits, how much time you have for sleep and how much you exercise can have serious impacts on your strength, General Practitioner, Dr. Ismail Oluwadare, says your tiredness may be due to underlying diseases that your body wants to draw your attention to.
He avers that though fatigue can occur in normal, healthy individuals as a normal response to physical and mental exertion, ‘normal fatigue’ may become abnormal if it becomes chronic, extreme or prolonged.
Experts warn that any serious illness, especially painful ones, can make you tired; while some quite minor illnesses can also leave you feeling washed out.
What are those likely diseases? Let the physician answer.
Oluwadare says anaemia – a medical condition in which a person has fewer red blood cells than normal – can be caused by many conditions and diseases such as iron deficiency, poor diet and nutrition, cancers, bone marrow problems, and more.
He says anaemia can cause fatigue when there is less oxygen supply to your heart and muscles.
“Consequently, you have less energy to perform your usual activities,” the physician says.
He, however, warns that it is not everyone who is tired that is also anaemic, as depression, emotional stress, insomnia, physical exhaustion, and a variety of medical problems might also be responsible for tiredness that won’t go.
Why is this medical emergency? Oluwadare says as the number of your red blood cells drops further, you may develop shortness of breath, lightheadedness (especially when you stand up), rapid heartbeat, pale skin, marked weakness and difficulty exercising.
“When anaemia becomes severe, it may lead to lethargy and confusion; while those with pre-existing heart or lung disease may suffer potentially life-threatening complications such as congestive heart failure, chest pain (angina), or heart attack,” the doctor explains.
Scientists say the thyroid gland produces the hormones that regulate how our cells use energy, all of which determine our blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. However, when the thyroid gland does not make enough of these important hormones, it will affect the body’s ability to perform normal metabolic functions such as efficient use of energy from foods, regulation of many chemical reactions in the body, and maintenance of healthy cells, bones and muscles, etc.
Common causes of hypothyroidism include surgical removal of the thyroid, autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS, too much or too less iodine in the diet, and radiation treatment.
Experts say women over the age of 50 are more prone to hypothyroidism; and that once the condition sets in, it’s for life.
The symptoms of this condition include tiredness, weight gain, constipation, aches, dry skin, lifeless hair, heavier menstrual flow, feeling cold, hoarseness, puffiness of the face, hands, and feet; slowed speech, decreased taste and smell, thin eyebrows, thickened skin, and coma.
“That is why you cannot afford to ignore unexplainable tiredness, especially after you have taken medications and had enough rest,” Oluwadare counsels.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
This is sobering, because carbon monoxide poisoning is now common all over the country and many people have died because of it. In recent times, entire families have even died as a result of it.
The most common source of carbon monoxide poisoning that has led to overnight deaths is the generator fume. Other sources are motor vehicle exhaust, smoke from fires, engine fumes, and nonelectric heaters.
Experts say where generator fume doesn’t kill outright or immediately, victims of regular exposure to it might suffer from headache, dizziness, nausea, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion, impaired judgment, chest pain, drowsiness, seizure, fainting, etc.
This is a very debilitating disease in a class of its own, what with the fact that it is a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood.
Diabetologist/Medical Director of Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Dr. Afokoghene Isiavwe, says one of the main symptoms of diabetes is feeling very tired.
“Regular tiredness, particularly tiredness following meals, is a common symptom of diabetes,” physicians warn.
Isiavwe says two common reasons for tiredness or lethargy are having too high or too low blood sugar levels.
In both cases, she notes, the tiredness is the result of having an imbalance between one’s level of blood glucose and the amount or effectiveness of circulating insulin.
Of course, not all tiredness is occasioned by diabetes, but you must be concerned if your fatigue is also accompanied by other notable symptoms such as urinating often, feeling very thirsty, feeling very hungry (even though you are eating), extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss (even though you are eating more (type 1), and tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2).
The bottom line
While you may not turn yourself into emotional wreck because you’re always tired, the most important is that you see the doctor for diagnosis and treatment of a tiredness that you can’t explain.