It’s Monday morning and you are fully prepared to confront the week headlong. But then, the tiredness you’ve been feeling for sometime just won’t go, even when you think you had enough rest during the weekend.
When tiredness lingers for days or, sometimes, for weeks, physicians say it may be due to potpourri of reasons; and that instead of worrying about it, the best bet is to take stock and get a way round the problem before it assumes emergency proportion.
According to Family Physician, Dr. Greg Akinduyile, about 10 per cent of us at any one time suffer from persistent tiredness. Again, experts warn, persistent tiredness is more common among women than men.
Akinduyile notes that the average modern man or woman is busy, while the race for economic survival takes its toll on a person’s overall health. As a result, he says, most people will, at some time or the other, experience tiredness.
Experts say under normal circumstances, tiredness does disappear after a good night’s sleep, though Akinduyile also argues that it may not be the same for everybody. Such people will discover that fatigue is a chronic problem that may ultimately undermine their day-to-day functioning and significantly affect their quality of life.
The physician says knowing the cause of the problem will help you – and your physician – to get solution. So, what causes tiredness or fatigue?
According to a pharmacist and CEO, RxEconsult LLC, Dr. Omudhome Ogbru, drugs that lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver are technically called statins.
Though cholesterol is critical to the normal function of every cell in the body, physicians say it also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol-containing plaques form within arteries, with the attendant health consequences, including heart attack and stroke.
If you are taking any of this class of drugs and regularly feel tired, Akinduyile says you may need to intimate your physician without further delay.
This is because, scientists say, statins can cause tiredness. According to a study by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, “statins, among the most commonly prescribed medications, can cause tiredness and decreased energy upon exertion.”
Lead researcher, Dr. Beatrice Golomb, urges doctors to bear this in mind when prescribing statins; adding that the effects statins have on energy levels, especially on exercise, have gained increasing attention recently.
Akinduyile says glandular fever is a type of viral infection that mostly affects young adults, with common symptoms that include a high temperature of 38ºC or above, sore throat, swollen nodes in the neck and extreme tiredness.
The doctor notes that, on the average, around one in 10 of people with glandular fever will experience prolonged fatigue, which may last for six months or more after the initial infection.
Indeed, some Australian researchers suggest that particularly severe glandular fever infections may affect the nervous system at the genetic level, leading to prolonged fatigue.
“What this translates into is that when you feel too ill to do your regular routine, don’t resort to self-medication, consult your doctor without delay,” experts warn.
Physicians describe anaemia as a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which the human body produces through the aid of iron in the body.
“When your body does not have enough iron, it will make fewer red blood cells or, when it does, the red blood cells will be too small. This is called iron deficiency anaemia,” experts say.
Akinduyile says many people suffering from iron deficiency anaemia will only display a few signs or symptoms of the illness, and such common symptoms include tiredness, lack of energy (lethargy) and dyspnoea (shortness of breath).
The doctor warns that iron-deficiency anaemia is not the kind of condition you treat at home. But as you prepare to visit your doctor, you will help your condition by including a reasonable quantity of red meat in your diet, among others, doctors advise.
Nutritionists also warn that feasting on wrong diets on regular basis can lead to fatigue. A nutritionist, Dr. Remi Omotunde, says taking too much caffeine-rich beverages, as well as eating sugary foods, can make you more fatigued as your blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly.
He advises eating balanced, healthy diet, complete with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
“Such a diet has numerous advantages because, in addition to nourishing your body, it also balances your weight and prevents you from being obese – another condition that can make you feel fatigued all the time.”
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition concludes that healthy women who failed to replace a mere 1.5 per cent of their water weight experienced mood swings and low energy levels.
The researchers suggest that when this happens, the neurons in the brain region responsible for controlling things like hydration and body temperature (hypothalamus) would send mood-altering messages to the rest of your brain as an early warning to drink more water. Failure to heed the warning, they say, may lead to tiredness as the day wears on.
Experts urge constant rehydration by drinking water at regular intervals. Plus, they say, this flushes the body and makes your urine clear.
Undiagnosed heart disease
Cardiologists warn that tiredness can also be a sign of heart trouble, particularly in women.
An ex-president of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Fred Ralston Jr. advises, “If you have trouble with exercise you used to do easily, or if you start feeling worse when you exercise, this could be a red flag for heart trouble. If you have any doubts, see your doctor.”
But again, start with the basics: your sleep, your diet, and your activity level. Sometimes the simplest fixes are all it takes.
We all experience stress at one time or the other; and, sometimes, some days might feel like 20 days packed into one in terms of many things that require urgent attention. At such times, it’s not unusual to feel stressed out.
However, physicians warn, if you are always feeling as if you will drop dead any moment; or if it feels as if you can’t stand the next moment, do see your physician.