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Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

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Reasons Why You Always Feel Tired

Perennial tiredness can be passed off as a side effect of a full life or having too much on your plate. But the reality is that there are a dozen or more health conditions that warrant treatment, which could be causing this tiredness. From psychological ailments like depression and anxiety, to health problems like hypothyroidism, anemia, restless leg syndrome, or sleep apnea, to lifestyle issues. Fatigue isn’t always due to the most obvious reasons!

Feeling tired, lethargic, or fatigued all the time isn’t normal. So you shouldn’t have to “live with it”. While it is possible to ignore tiredness as a sign of a busy life, often, it is a symptom of some other health problem. Getting to the bottom of it can help bring you much needed respite not just from the tiredness itself but also from the root cause that’s got your body protesting.

The key to knowing what’s causing your tiredness is watching for other symptoms to help you differentiate between the numerous possible conditions that cause such fatigue. Here’s a roundup of the top physical, psychological, and lifestyle causes for that oh-so-familiar feeling of being “always tired”.

11 Health Problems That Leave You Tired

1. Sleep Apnea

According to the American Sleep Association, an estimated 25 million adults in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea. This condition in which the airways are partially or completely blocked when a person is asleep, can cause blood oxygen levels to drop. In a bid to restart breathing, the brain wakes you up, resulting in a very disturbed night of sleep. The result? You wake up feeling unrested and tired, with drowsiness that lasts through the day.

Watch out for signs like:

  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches, when you wake up in the morning. Hypertension, insomnia, and mood problems like spells of anxiety or depression may also occur.1

2. Restless Leg Syndrome

Another problem that can cost you precious shut-eye and leave you feeling exhausted, is restless leg syndrome. A neurological problem, it creates unpleasant sensation in your legs resulting in an overwhelming urge to move them. Unfortunately, lying down to rest is counterproductive and can activate the problem making it difficult to sleep properly. This can also happen while sitting.2

[Read: Treat Restless Leg Syndrome Naturally]

3. Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is a psychological condition which causes a sense of dread/unease, restlessness, and irritability, but can also result in some very perceptible physical symptoms. And tiredness is closely linked with GAD. Other physical symptoms that could tip you off about your fatigue being anxiety-linked are:

  • Dizziness
  • Irregular or fast heartbeats(palpitations)
  • Muscular aches
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach ache
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling sick, pins and needles
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia3

4. Depression

Depression may seem like “someone else’s problem”, but it’s surprisingly common. As many as 15.7 million adults in the U.S. had one or more depressive episodes in 2014 alone. That’s about 6.7 percent of the adult population of the country.4 Symptoms of depression includes:

  • Fatigue or a feeling of being low on energy and “slowed down”, is a typical symptom.
  • If you find yourself being pessimistic, or feeling helpless and hopeless, guilty or worthless, and have headaches and unexplained pains that don’t seem to be treatable, it could be depression.
  • You may also lose interest in things you used to love doing.
  • Insomnia or oversleeping are both likely.
  • You could also lose your appetite and lose weight.
  • Because symptoms include thoughts of suicide and death, it is important to address the problem and get help at the earliest and not try and struggle through the fatigue and other symptoms alone.5

5. Lifestyle Problems

Disturbed sleep may not always be due to health problems or medical conditions. Sometimes, lifestyle choices you make could interfere with your sleep too.

  • Whether it is working a shift job that sees you up most nights, or a love of clubbing into the wee hours, or a young baby at home, your body is an incredibly sensitive system and may show signs of wear when it isn’t given the rest it needs.
  • Heavy drinking can affect sleep. So can poor diet. Set up a nighttime ritual and be sure to get a nap during the day if you aren’t able to sleep through the night.6
  • Being overweight too can cause tiredness, as can a lack of physical activity.7

6. Thyroid Problems

If your thyroid is underactive and not producing enough thyroid hormones to keep your body working as normal, you may end up feeling perpetually exhausted. That’s because your body is generally slowing down its processes as thyroid function isn’t normal. This slowdown may also cause your skin to become dry, and make you feel cold more easily. You may also have to deal with constipation. Some people also experience forgetfulness and depression.8

7. Anemia

Insufficient red blood cells to transport oxygen to various parts of the body, to your cells and tissues, can leave you feeling winded. If you’ve noticed a general sense of weakness and shortness of breath, anemia may be to blame. Accompanying symptoms include headaches and difficulty concentrating. If the anemia is getting worse, you may find your nails turn brittle, your skin pale, and you feel lightheaded when you get up from a seated or lying down position.9

8. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune problem that leaves the person highly sensitive to gluten found in grains like wheat and barley. Because your body launches an immune response to ingestion of these foods, it triggers abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, and causes fatty or foul smelling stool. What not everyone realizes, is that it also causes fatigue or tiredness. It can also result in irritability or other behavior problems.10

9. Diabetes

Many diabetics complain of feeling tired all the time. This extreme fatigue could be linked to hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and the oscillations between. Sometimes, the endless rigor of the regimen of diabetes self-management can wear you down, leaving you depressed and exhausted.11 The American Diabetes Association warns of these other symptoms of diabetes that you should be aware of to catch the problem so it can be treated. These include: feeling very thirsty or hungry, urinating often, numbness/tingling in the feet or hands(for those with type 2 diabetes), blurred vision, slow healing cuts and bruises, and even weight loss(in those with type 1 diabetes).12

10. Glandular Fever

Also known as mononucleosis, or just “mono”, glandular fever usually attacks young adults. While this viral infection lasts just a couple of weeks, the fatigue unfortunately, lingers on for months after. Other signs of this fever are a sore throat, high body temperature, and swollen glands in your neck.13

11. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Sometimes, no amount of sleep or rest seems to be enough. No matter what you do, you still feel tired all the time. If this sounds familiar, you could have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You may also have memory issues, headaches, experience muscular pain, painful joints, have a sore throat and tender lymph nodes. Sleep problems are also common and physical activity can leave you feeling exhausted and unwell for as long as a day after the activity concludes.14 Unlike other medical conditions that are easier to diagnose and have some clear lines of treatment, there is no single mainstream treatment suggested for this problem. Instead, a mix of therapy and medication to manage the various symptoms may be suggested. Complementary and alternative therapy can go a long way in easing symptoms and the weariness associated with your condition.

References   [ + ]

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea. American Sleep Association.
2. What is restless legs syndrome? National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
3. Generalised anxiety disorder in adults – Symptoms. NHS.
4. Depression. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
5. Symptoms. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
6. Why am I tired all the time? NHS.
7, 11. Fritschi, Cynthia, and Laurie Quinn. “Fatigue in patients with diabetes: a review.” Journal of psychosomatic research 69, no. 1 (2010): 33-41.
8. Hypothyroidism. American Thyroid Association.
9. Anemia. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
10. Celiac Disease Symptoms. Celiac Disease Foundation.
12. Diabetes Symptoms. American Diabetes Association.
13. Glandular fever. NHS.
14. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. U.S. National Library of Medicine.