“You’d have thought that leaving the office and getting some fresh air after lunch you’d feel refreshed, but it didn’t help. I am exhausted. Now I understand what brain fog means.
My fatigue is probably not caused by just a heavy lunch but also I’m physically in a poor condition. Being overweight, exercising has never been my passion and with menopause sleeping has become very intermittent. I have to go to the toilet three times a night and I have night sweats. Also my doctor just prescribed antibiotics for urinary tract infection. I like my job, but at the moment it feels like things are getting more and more out of hands. Actually, this has been happening for years now. How did that happen?”
This might sound familiar to many middle-aged. It is the opposite of alertness, fatigue. Even thinking about fatigue makes limbs feel heavy. Fatigue is an exhausting feeling of weight on the body. It’s like carrying an extremely heavy burden on your shoulders, a feeling that you simply can’t stay awake. Would just like to crawl somewhere and curl up to snooze. In addition to outdoor air, fog seems to be inside the head. “I’m quite exhausted and I feel that I didn’t get anything done,” someone describes about fatigue. The other talks about brain fog when things no longer seem to be sufficiently clear because of fatigue.
Fatigue is either physical or mental, a mental strain. Partial or comprehensive. If I’ve been exercising efficiently and for a long time, the muscles are tired, and it seems like the body feels exhausted in general. However, weariness at that time is not necessarily a bad feeling like true fatigue. Physical exhaustion usually goes by with resting for long enough. In this case, the body reloads and rejuvenates and is ready for a new effort. Mental fatigue, especially when prolonged, may come near to depression. Tired brains see the world in a very different way. When you’re feeling down, the world feels in its entirety a lot darker place. Then there hasn’t been enough of mental recovery.
Seasons and above all, their variation has an effect on fatigue. Spring fatigue is related to depression, and both are caused by a change in the amount of light. As well as the amount of light lost in the darkness of autumn, the increased sunlight in the spring can also affect the human vitality. Fatigue signals the need for rest, whether it is fatigue caused by physical or psychological stress. Recovery is important in order to cope with future challenges. Eliminating and recovering fatigue does not just mean sleeping or being idle. Small naps, for example, after a hard day at work can be beneficial, but sleeping more than 20 to 30 minutes can easily interfere with night sleep and mix up your daily rhythm.
Doing nothing feels like the complete opposite of being productive, but after you’ve tried it you will see how effective it can be. If being idle is hard for you, experts point out that, for example, it would be worth doing something completely different from what you do for a living. We use our resources differently in different matters. For example, it would be a good idea for office workers to go outside for a while after a workday. Even a relaxing outdoor activity or just doing clearly different things will help you recover.
Fatigue is the opposite of alertness. According to a neurologist, a sufficient level of alertness is a prerequisite for the normal functioning of the brain, for staying awake and performing tasks as planned. Drowsiness, feeling tired and prolonged eye blink rate are signs of reduced alertness. If a person’s head bobs, a person has usually been asleep for several seconds.
Reasons for fatigue
There are many reasons for fatigue. According to the neurologist, drowsiness-type fatigue can be caused by long-term staying awake, lack of sleep, sleep apnea, narcolepsy or other hypersomnia, some other disease caused-impaired state of alertness, alcohol or use of medications that can cause tiredness. About 10-30% of people suffer from abnormal daytime fatigue.
Sometimes there are too many things in life at the same time, and people can be exhausted without being physically ill. Worries, financial problems, unemployment, or excessive workloads put a strain on the mind and make us tired. Stress often weighs on the mind, and as work-related, it can develop into a work burnout that can progress to depression that requires treatment. Work-related exhaustion or burnout can be related to the constant pressures of working life, which can be not only an individual problem, but also a problem in the entire work community that requires handling.
Fatigue is a perceived emotional state that is usually associated with feelings of powerlessness and fatigue caused by psychological reasons, to which the environment and its demands are affected. Fatigue is a feeling of inadequacy and often a defensive reaction to things that he feels that he can’t influence. In depression and mood problems, tiredness and feeling of inability are common symptoms.
A person who’s in a good shape, lives a healthy life, is a non-smoker and exercises often performs physically better and tirelessly in variety of life’s stress situations than a person who’s overweight and is barely exercising at all. Giving instructions to move more to a tired person might sound like teasing when the person is feeling that they are not able to do anything.
Abundant use of alcohol or other intoxicants is physically tiring. Alcohol interferes badly with the quality of sleep. The small amount of alcohol consumed the next day, after consuming plenty of alcohol and having a badly slept night, has a surprisingly strong impact. Alcohol also worsens sleepiness caused by sleep disturbance. In traffic, these combinations are often life-threatening, especially at dawn. Even a small amount of alcohol will significantly impair performance, especially if the state of alertness is otherwise poor.
Many people are tired because they sleep too little or sleep does not rejuvenate. A person gets tired of stress, but if the recovery from the strain is normal, the situation normalizes. However, continuous action prevents recovery. At times, relaxation is needed – putting aside a mentally or physically stressful thing and recharging new energy. Sleeping takes care of some recovery if there is enough of it and it is of high quality.
Eating affects your state of alertness. Lunch gives energy, but if it is too heavy it easily makes us drowsy. High-carb foods, consisting mainly of fast-absorbing carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, potatoes, and sugar-containing products, are tiring, and should not be used excessively for lunch. For lunch, it is better to have a lighter setting: slow-absorbing carbohydrates, ie vegetables, salads and whole grains, berries and fruits, and suitable low-fat protein sources, such as chicken, fish and eggs. It is good to put some rapeseed or olive oil in the salads, which helps to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Nutritional protein is a vital building block that keeps us going. Our metabolism needs proteins for building cells and strengthening muscles. If your body stays permanently without adequate protein, our weight drops. Unfortunately, however, it targets muscles instead of adipose tissue. If someone who’s trying to lose weight cuts back on protein, he will lose muscles with the protein storages diminishing, instead of losing fat from adipose tissue. Then he gets tired. It can easily overwhelm the weight loss progression that has begun with great enthusiasm, which would generally help to eliminate fatigue.
For the elderly it is especially important to take care of sufficient amount of protein. Many elderly people living alone suffer from a lack of protein, which leads to the body becoming brittle and often leads in to falls and tumbles.
Causes of fatigue?
Fatigue always signals something about the state of our body and our lives. Occasionally, there may be a clear deficiency or illness that can be helped by health care. Sometimes something that has to be done is our own task to be done. The reason for fatigue is good to find out to be able to treat it so that it does not cripple our lives. The need for sleep increases in many somatic and psychiatric illnesses. Fatigue can be caused by a physical or mental illness or by a medication that has side effects. If fatigue develops very quickly, it may be a symptom of an urgent medical condition, but fortunately only rarely it is something more serious, like for example cancer.
The most common cause of fatigue is inadequate or poor quality of sleep.
A neurologist at the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, writes about Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in the Journal of Medicine:
“Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is an abnormal daytime fatigue combined with a compulsive need to sleep. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is inadequate or interrupted sleep at night. Sleeping disorders are usually not linked to the central nervous system. The cause of excessive daytime sleepiness should be determined and treated whenever possible. Non-medicated therapies are useful regardless of causes. In central nervous system-related excessive daytime sleepiness, medication to improve alertness is often necessary, but the situation must always be evaluated individually. The lack of evidence is a key problem with medication options. ”
According to them, daytime fatigue is common, but only a part of those who feel tired or tired suffer from actual hypersomnia ie excessive daytime sleepiness. The most common cause of fatigue is inadequate or poor quality of sleep for a person’s current individual need.
The causes of excessive daytime sleepiness
- Due to environmental factors
CIRCADIAN RHYTM DISORDERS
- Delayed or early sleep period
- Irregular circadian rhythm
- Shift work sleep disorder
BROKEN SLEEP AND FACTORS THAT AFFECT YOUR SLEEP
- Internal causes: sleep apnea, restless legs and periodic limb dysfunction, reflux disease, pain, heart failure, nocturnal epilepsy
- External causes: disturbances in the sleeping environment (noise, temperature, lighting, poor room air), sleeping spouse, child or pet, caffeine, alcohol or drugs
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM RELATED DISORDERS
- Type 1 or 2 narcolepsy
- Idiopathic hypersomnia
- Kleine-Levin syndrome
- Excessive sleepiness caused by other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, MS disease or brain injury
SOMATIC AND PSYCHIATRIC DISORDER
- Thyroid failure
- Chronic inflammatory diseases
Physical causes of fatigue
The most common physical causes of fatigue are iron deficiency anemia (low hemoglobin in the blood), hypothyroidism, or onset of diabetes. These diseases can be easily detected by laboratory tests. Iron deficiency, anemia, hypothyroidism, and vitamin D deficiency are all conditions that make you feel tired and can become unhealthy as you become chronic.
Iron and vitamin deficiency cause fatigue
In mild anemia, there is fatigue that may appear in physical efficiency, when a person feels unable to do things like earlier.
Symptoms of severe anemia include clear tiredness, dizziness and shortness of breath. The more severe the anemia is and the faster it develops, the more severe the symptoms are. Anemia means low blood levels, with only little or at least not enough red blood cells in the blood. Anemia can be detected by examining blood hemoglobin levels. The lower limit of normal hemoglobin is in men 134 and in females 117 g / l. Anemia is not an actual disease, but it can be due to many reasons, and its cause must always be clarified.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. In the past, anemia was mostly caused by one-sided or scarce nutrition. Nowadays nutrition scarcity or one-sidedness generally does not at least alone cause anemia. High blood loss, for example, in women with heavy menstruation, can cause anemia. Iron deficiency may also be caused by bleeding in the stomach or intestine. Iron deficiency anemia improves by oral administration of ferrous iron salts long enough, usually months. Iron deficiency associated with abundant menstruation can be prevented with temporary intake of iron supplements.
Vitamin B12 and folic acid affect the amount of red blood cells and the decrease or lack of red blood cells leads to anemia. For this reason, the resulting anemia is revealed by the large size of red blood cells in the blood. Anemia caused by vitamin deficiency is treated with vitamin B12 injections and folic acid tablets.
Red blood cell count may also be reduced by some long-term illnesses, such as kidney failure. Rheumatic diseases, various infections, and cancers are also diseases with low red blood cell count (RBC). In this case, the bone marrow does not produce enough red blood cells. Anemia caused by these diseases is not cured by the help of iron supplements.
People with low vitamin D are more likely to have low bone density and are more likely to experience breaks or fractures and low vitamin D levels affect the development of osteoporosis. Adequate intake of vitamin D should be ensured especially in children and elderly people. For people who live in a place with little sunlight during the winter, it’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from food and sunlight during the winter, so we need vitamin supplements. Official recommendations for total vitamin D intake vary, but in children, adolescents and under 75 years of age it’s 10-15 micrograms per day. Some experts think that higher doses would be beneficial at least for special groups. The safe intake of vitamin D is between 100 and 125 micrograms per day.
Thyroid disorder behind fatigue
Thyroid is a gland at the lower end of the neck, it releases hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) that control metabolism—the way your body uses energy. There are many different causes for thyroid disorders. Most common the cause is due to autoimmune thyroid disease – a self-destructive process in which antibodies are formed and the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid cells as if they were foreign cells. Hypothyroidism develops into illness over months and years, often slowly and unnoticed. Thyroid failure occurs most in people over 60 years of age. Thyroid disorders are four times more common in women than in men.
Lack of thyroid hormone slows down metabolism, resulting in fatigue, burning sensation, weight gain, constipation, slow heartbeat, and dry skin. Often there is swelling in the eyes, face and legs. The symptoms begin slowly and get worse over the months or years.
Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction include sudden obesity or weight loss, difficulty concentrating, hearing loss, menstrual disorders and difficulty in getting pregnant. Severe thyroid dysfunction may be accompanied by mood swings and memory problems. Hypothyroidism can be easily by blood tests, for example in a health center.
Thyroid failure can’t be cured by lifestyle changes or other self-care. Treatment is a thyroid hormone taken as tablets once a day. It usually relieves symptoms within a few weeks. An average of nearly 6% of the population uses the thyroxine medicine. Most of them are in the late middle age or older, but the disease can also appear in younger ones.
When the right dosage of thyroxine is found, it usually does not change over the years. An exception is pregnancy, where the need for thyroxine increases and the dose is increased. Tyroxin treatment is lifelong.
A professor, a specialist in internal medicine, writes in his article in the Health Library:
Recently, information about ‘hypothyroidism’ has been spread over the internet, where the above-mentioned thyroid tests are perfectly normal. The condition is called ‘type 2 hypothyroidism or ‘Wilson’s syndrome’. There is no justification for it through medical research. It’s dangerous to medicate people with thyroid preparations who don’t have hypothyroidism. For example, depression or overweight should not be treated with thyroid preparations unless proper laboratory testing has been performed to ensure that the hypothyroidism is noted.
Inflammation and other causes of fatigue
Different inflammatory conditions make the body tired. It may be a fever, a common flu or an influenza caused by a virus or a bacterial. According to a general practitioner, inflammatory diseases are often associated with heat or limb pain and shortness of breath in lung diseases.
Inflammatory heart diseases may be accompanied by chest pain and local symptoms or general weakness. From metabolic diseases, diabetes can initially appear as deterioration of health condition.
Lyme disease/ Lyme borreliosis and mononucleosis are viral diseases that can be accompanied by severe fatigue, both as a symptom and after the disease has healed. Sometimes, after mononucleosis, the vague strong fatigue can last up to several months. The reason for this is unknown. Post-fatigue often occurs also in severe pneumonia.
Fatigue-like tiredness can be a symptom of heart and cardiovascular problems that appear as breathlessness. Fatigue is one of the symptoms of Multiple sclerosis (MS) disease. Sometimes, fatigue and exhaustion are often considered synonymous. However, fatigue can be defined as abnormal tiredness in physical or mental stress. It is an independent symptom of many long-term diseases. Many people with MS, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes suffer from fatigue.
“Fatigue, or exceptional tiredness, has been one of the worst symptoms in my disease. It is fatigue that is difficult to explain and difficult to understand unless you have experienced it yourself. It is fatigue that can strike without any special reason and just quite unexpectedly. It’s fatigue that is depressing.” writes a 36-year-old patient with MS.
Rest does not eliminate fatique-type exhaustion. According to studies, it can be relieved by appropriate endurance and muscle strength training.
There is also talk of fibromyalgia, which, according to the present concept, is a neurological disorder and a neurological syndrome. Its main symptoms are wide-ranging pains of varying intensity and location, persistent fatigue, which is not relieved by nighttime sleep, decreased stress tolerance, swelling and numbness in the limbs, and temperature sensitivity. The nervous system is overactive and irritated by fibromyalgia. In the evening, the brain should move into a restful state and the person falls asleep, but the brain of the pain patient does not always work that way.
Fatigue also predicts migraine in many people, and a poorly slept night triggers migraine easily. Many drugs and sleeping pills used for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric diseases have the side effects of fatigue.
Chronic or long-term fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a rare, severely life-limiting illness that can last for months and even years. Sudden onset and prolonged fatigue can increase in both physical and mental stress, but it does not disappear by resting or sleeping. Muscle pain, dizziness, headache, insomnia and irritability are often accompanied by fatigue. The causes of fatigue syndrome are not well known. It is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, a cerebrospinal inflammation that causes muscle pain. One of the explanatory factors of the disease may be a viral or bacterial infection. Some studies suggest that underlying cause of fatigue syndrome may be an exceptional action of intestinal bacteria, which have also been noticed in patients with an irritable bowel syndrome, which often also causes extreme tiredness. Extreme mental stress can also cause extreme fatigue, and prolonged stress plays a significant role in triggering and maintaining the symptom.
It seems that there may be very different causes in the background, both physical and psychological. Often the syndrome occurs at the age of 35-50 years. It occurs more often in women than in men. Obesity, lack of exercise, and constant stress increase the risk of development of the syndrome.
Sometimes the roots of chronic fatigue and pain can be very far away. One psychiatrist writes that there may be various traumatic emotional memories behind them. At least those suffering from chronic pain have clearly experienced more traumatic experiences such as violence or sexual abuse in their childhood than average. The risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome are also previous depression, overactive lifestyle and striving for perfection – on the other hand, also passivity or avoidance of physical activity. Central nervous system, hormones and the immune system affect the syndrome.
The nature of chronic fatigue syndrome, the underlying factors, and especially the forms of treatment, raise a lot of discussion and some contradictory perceptions among medical professionals. Disability pension and rehabilitation are often sought on the basis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Studies have shown that tiered physical training and cognitive-behavioral therapy have long been the only treatments with moderate evidence of effectiveness. There is only little conclusive research on the effectiveness of medicines and other treatments. Individuals may, of course, also benefit from medical treatment. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is not a psychiatric disorder nor reluctance or laziness but a disease that severely diminishes the quality of life, the causes of which are worth exploring. However, it is rare and in less severe cases, such as fatigue in general, it is best to first consider your own lifestyle: sleep, exercise and nutrition.
So, you should start by studying and modifying your lifestyle to get started with fatigue. Most often, the lifestyle-related cause of fatigue is too little sleep or sleeplessness. Many people today sleep too little without even being aware of it.
Many of us believe that weekly sleep deprivation can be compensated by sleeping more at the weekend, as if afterwards, and preferably in advance. However, sleeping in advance usually does not succeed.