Why am I often tired

Fatigue: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

What is fatigue?

Fatigue usually shows up when the body needs rest or simply a break. This usually occurs when there is a lack of sleep, too much work or the wrong diet. If the tiredness does not persist over a longer period of time, although you sleep enough and live healthy otherwise, then the condition could indicate an illness. Often other symptoms also occur, such as listlessness and declining mental and physical performance.

Causes of fatigue

Most people know why they are tired every now and then. Either you haven't slept enough or you are in an exhausting life situation. Even those who work for a long time without relaxing breaks know the feeling of extreme fatigue. The symptom is usually a signal that the body lacks the necessary rest or sufficient sleep. But illnesses can also lead to fatigue. This is often behind fatigue:

Common causes of fatigue:

  • Chronic lack of sleep: A life without regard to the natural sleep-wake cycle leads to chronic lack of sleep. Sleeping too late or getting up too early is usually responsible.
  • Too little exercise: A prolonged lack of exercise leads to tiredness more quickly.
  • Bad diet: A diet that is too fat and high in calories promotes symptoms of fatigue. Because after a substantial meal, more blood flows into the digestive organs and thus less into the brain. The lower blood flow to the brain also leads to a reduced oxygen supply to this region and thus triggers fatigue.
  • Lack of fluids: If too little fluid is absorbed, the oxygen supply to the brain may be delayed, because the blood is then thicker and flows correspondingly more slowly. Two liters of liquid (preferably water or tea) are recommended daily.
  • Underweight or diets: This can lead to a lack of nutrients and minerals. This can lead to fatigue.
  • Overweight: Even slight exertion usually causes exhaustion and drowsiness.
  • Stress: Whether at work or in private, stress exhausts the mind and body in the long run. Affected people react with fatigue, in the worst case with depression or burnout.
  • Under-challenged: Boredom and under-challenged often lead to a boreout. Affected people are often tired.
  • Toxins and pollutants: If there are harmful substances in work or living spaces, this can lead to fatigue, among other things.

Conditions that can cause tiredness:

  • Infections: When the body has to fight pathogens such as viruses or bacteria, the immune system is stressed. This leads to fatigue. Even after an illness such as the flu or cold has subsided, tiredness can linger even longer.
  • Anemia: Symptoms include decreased performance, tiredness and headache. Anemia occurs, for example, when there is a lack of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid. Bleeding, infections and other diseases can also be the cause of anemia.
  • Sleep apnea: There is constant respiratory arrest at night and thus disturbed sleep. During the day, this results in fatigue.
  • Metabolic disorders: An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or diabetes (diabetes mellitus) are common causes of tiredness.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias: Those affected suffer from fatigue, weaknesses, sweating, shortness of breath, chest tightness and chronic fatigue, for example.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure): Those who suffer from hypotension are often unable to concentrate, do not perform well and tire quickly.
  • Cancer: Fatigue is often one of the early symptoms of the disease. Treatment with chemotherapy or radiation also usually results in fatigue. This is known as tumor-related fatigue.
  • Other chronic physical diseases: The causes of fatigue can also be the following diseases: heart failure, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoid and chronic kidney failure.

Medications or drugs that can make you feel tired:

  • Medicines: Medicines that can cause tiredness include antidepressants, neuroleptics, antihistamines, drugs for high blood pressure and allergies, as well as sleeping pills and sedatives.
  • Drugs: Addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco are also often causes of fatigue.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (fatigue syndrome) as a cause of fatigue:

  • The condition, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, represents a complex clinical picture. The cause of the depressing, pronounced fatigue and other symptoms may be viral infections. Pfeiffer's glandular fever is suspected as a trigger. Disorders in the hormonal balance or psychological stress can also lead to this.

Fatigue - when to see a doctor?

If tiredness does not only occur from time to time, after a restless night or a phase with a lot of stress, you should see a doctor. Constant fatigue can also indicate an illness. Especially if there are other symptoms such as night sweats, dry mucous membranes, swollen lymph nodes, blood in the stool or noticeably strong thirst.

Fatigue - Diagnosis

In order to be able to make a correct diagnosis, the doctor will get a comprehensive picture of the patient's state of health at the beginning of the examination. The previous medical history is relevant, as are circumstances and possible peculiarities in the current life situation, which can possibly trigger the tiredness. In this so-called anamnesis conversation, for example, questions are asked about the severity of the symptoms, the duration of fatigue, the situation at work and the time of the first occurrence. Information about other possible complaints is also important.

During the subsequent physical diagnosis, the doctor will examine the following organs and body regions in particular: the lymphatic region, the heart, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, the urogenital tract and the function of the nervous system and muscles.

Depending on the suspected cause of tiredness, an analysis of the blood values, a blood sugar measurement and an examination in the sleep laboratory may follow. The brain waves recorded there by the EEG can provide further information on the cause of fatigue. Electrocardiography (EKG) can also be useful.

Therapy of fatigue

Fatigue can be a symptom of various physical or mental illnesses. Appropriate therapy is given as soon as the doctor has made a diagnosis. If someone is very tired due to an infectious disease, it will go to bed when the person has recovered. The doctor can also prescribe antipyretic medication, expectorants or inhalations to relieve the symptoms and aid healing. If you are tired due to iron deficiency and the resulting anemia, it is important to change your diet. You should prefer foods with a high iron content, such as whole grains, green vegetables, meat, beetroot and nuts. The body can use the iron from animal products better. Iron supplements can also be prescribed. Fatigue caused by folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiency can also be eliminated by changing the diet. Here, too, supplementation with food supplements is possible. Mental illnesses, such as depression, can usually be treated well with behavioral therapy. Those affected also benefit from regular exercise and relaxation exercises. Overweight people mostly suffer from sleep apnea. They are often better off when they reduce their body weight by a few kilograms. Regular breathing leads to better sleep and those affected are no longer constantly tired. The doctor may also prescribe a sleep mask or an occlusal splint.

Fatigue - What you can do about it yourself:

Fatigue can be effectively combated by making some behavioral changes in your life. However, if a disease is responsible for the symptom, it should be treated by a doctor.

Tips against constant fatigue:

  • Have a power nap more often. A short sleep in between (maximum 20 minutes) has a relaxing effect and strengthens performance.
  • Pay attention to your own internal clock. Active and rest periods should as far as possible correspond to individual needs. Some people are fitter in the morning, others in the evening.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Consume plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grain products.
  • Drink enough. Adults should drink around two liters of fluids a day. Alternating herbal teas or water are recommended.
  • Move regularly. Endurance sports stimulate the circulation, but other sports are also cheap.
  • To take a cold shower. Alternating showers in the morning also get the circulation going.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or other relaxing methods can help reduce stress.
  • Check medication for side effects. If the constant tiredness is triggered by the active ingredient of a drug, the attending physician can prescribe an alternative drug if necessary.
  • Avoid addictive substances. Reduce alcohol consumption to a minimum. Do not smoke.

Homeopathy for fatigue

Too little sleep, constant physical or mental exertion, excessive demands in your private or professional life - all of these can lead to you being tired a lot. Affected people feel exhausted, listless and limp. To counteract this, one should try to change the stressful circumstances and lead a healthier lifestyle. Homeopathic remedies can also help those affected to develop more energy and strength again. If there is a mental illness, such as burnout, a homeopathic treatment accompanying behavioral therapy can also be useful.

The following homeopathic remedies can work against tiredness and exhaustion (selection):

  • Arnica: When mental and physical exertion are the cause of tiredness. The same applies to exhaustion as a result of long journeys.
  • Arsenicum album: For severe exhaustion and tiredness. When every little requirement is felt to be too much.
  • Calcium sulfuricum: For chronic fatigue and listlessness. The same applies to exhaustion from alcohol abuse.
  • Kalium phophoricum: When you are tired after a lot of intellectual work and often suffer from headaches. If you feel weak and have a nervous stomach.
  • Lycopus virginicus: When those affected show symptoms of vegetative dystonia, such as sleep disorders, dizziness, listlessness, heart and stomach problems and mood swings.

Acupuncture for fatigue

In traditional Chinese medicine, therapies such as acupuncture or Qi Gong are used to strengthen the mind and body. In this way, people who suffer from chronic fatigue or burnout can benefit from other treatments such as psychotherapy, as well as from accompanying treatment with acupuncture. In a chronic exhaustion one sees a disharmony of the energies yin and yang. This creates blockages and the life energy, the Qi, can no longer flow freely. With burnout, this is shown by a so-called excess yang and a lack of yin. Yang stands for the male principle, for fire and activity. Yin, on the other hand, embodies the feminine principle with calm and water. Acupuncture therapy balances these energies and can often counteract exhaustion and sleep disorders.

Fatigue - ICD Code

In medicine, every illness is assigned its own ICD code. The abbreviation ICD stands for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The classification system is recognized worldwide and one of the most important for medical diagnoses. For example, the general symptoms “malaise and fatigue” are recorded under the ICD code “R53”. Entering these codes often helps with research on the Internet.

FAQ about fatigue

How much sleep do you need?

In order to be rested and productive rather than tired during the day, we have to get enough sleep. How much depends on the age and also on the individual constitution. As a rule, children sleep longer than adults. By the age of six, they need about eleven hours of sleep. People over 40 are able to get an average of seven hours of sleep and for healthy 80-year-olds it is around six hours.

How can you fight fatigue?

If you are constantly tired, the cause should be clarified by a doctor. Persistent tiredness can also be an indication of an illness. If there is no serious reason behind it, the following tips should be heeded:

  • Get enough sleep not to be tired during the day.
  • Eat healthy. Consume as many natural foods as possible, such as vegetables, fruit and whole grain products.
  • Drink a lot. At least two liters of fluid daily for adults.
  • Make sure you get enough exercise. A walk in the fresh air can also stimulate the circulation.

Fatigue - What is the body missing?

There are different causes of fatigue. If someone is constantly suffering from it, they should see a doctor. For example, a blood test can provide information about possible deficiency symptoms. Because one reason for constant tiredness is sometimes anemia (anemia). It can be triggered by a lack of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid. It is also possible that someone is often tired from drinking too little. An infection like a cold is also heralded by tiredness. Depression can also be associated with fatigue.

How do you get rid of afternoon fatigue?

If someone tends to get tired quickly in the afternoon, this may be due to a lavish lunch. It is best to eat smaller meals that are less high in fat. Salads, lots of vegetables and fruit are good. Drinking enough water is also important. This is more likely to be thought of when you stand a drink in sight. A power napping also helps many. However, this should not take longer than 20 minutes. Brisk running in the fresh air is also invigorating.

What can you do about tiredness caused by stress?

Especially when there are many challenges to be mastered professionally or privately, you are quickly exhausted, sleep poorly and are often tired. In such a situation it can be helpful to do relaxation exercises such as meditation, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson. Psychotherapy can help those affected who are constantly suffering from stress and are unable to change the situation themselves. A complementary homeopathic treatment can also help to combat the constant tiredness.

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  • DÄGfA - German Medical Association for Acupuncture e.V., www.daedgfa.de (accessed on November 22, 2019)

All statements without guarantee.