If you feel so tired constantly that at times you fail to execute your daily duties, experts say that the fatigue could be due to underlying conditions that may require medical attention.
According to Yvonne Uwamahoro, a mental health expert at Mental Health Hub (mHub), tiredness is a feeling of constant fatigue or weakness and can be physical, mental or a combination of both. It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life.
She says that a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to tiredness, sleep disorders, insomnia (not having enough sleep), poor diet, obesity, excessive alcohol, and drug use.
“Mental health ailments such as depression, among other medical conditions, could also cause tiredness. Fatigue is a symptom of a wide range of diseases, disorders and deficiencies affecting various parts of the body (infections, influenza, hormonal imbalances, and others),” she says.
Uwamahoro adds that some medications and treatments, several prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antihistamines, can cause tiredness.
Fatigue is a common symptom of many illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, anaemia, thyroid disease, and sleep apnoea. Talk to your doctor if you feel unusually tired. Many medications can contribute to fatigue. These include some blood pressure medicines, antihistamines, diuretics, and other drugs. If you begin to experience fatigue after starting a new medication, tell your doctor, states WebMD.
Uwamahoro says that environmental conditions like temperature, airlessness, noise, and too much stress, for instance; emotional stress in family life or at work, or workload (high or low), can trigger fatigue.
For her, time awake prior to duty (duties that start in the evening are more likely to cause tiredness than those beginning for example at 8:00 am), but working for long hours also strains.
Uwamahoro explains that tiredness leads to increased reaction time (slow reaction to changing situation), reduced attentiveness, and impaired memory like forgetfulness, withdrawn mood, poor decision-making, and overreacting.
She adds that at times it can also result in alcohol abuse and other drugs, conflicts with people around, falling sick all the time (the immune system can be affected and many other physical diseases can take over), not performing well at work and having mental disorders.
How to cope
Uwamahoro suggests eating healthy food to beat tiredness, for example, eating regular and healthy meals.
Healthline states that your body runs off what you feed it. The best way to get the most energy from your food is to make sure you’re giving yourself the best food possible, some of the foods advisable to fight fatigue are; unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables, non-caffeinated beverages, lean proteins, whole grains and complex carbs, nuts, water, vitamins and supplements, bananas, oats, among others.
Uwamahoro says that one should exercise more. “You might feel that exercise is the last thing on your mind. But, in fact, regular exercise will make you feel less tired in the long run, so you will have more energy. Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, remember to start with a small amount of exercise.”
She recommends losing weight to gain energy. If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired.
The mental health expert advises sleeping enough, as this will assist you to stay alert throughout the day. Going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day can help, also avoid naps in the day and take time to relax before you go to bed.
She also says to reduce stress to boost energy by doing physical exercise, practicing relaxation techniques, listening to music or reading, and spending time with friends, as it can be a good remedy to curb fatigue.
Uwamahoro explains that talking to a counsellor for more support can be helpful to identify the causes of your permanent tiredness.
“Cut off caffeine, sodas, tea, energy drinks, some painkillers and herbal medicines. Drink less alcohol, especially before bedtime, you will get a better night’s rest and have more energy. Drink water, sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise. You can also consult a physician to assess and treat other underlying physical conditions,” she says.