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The 10 most common causes of fatigue


Fatigue is a symptom that may be caused by illness, or medical treatment

Fatigue is a symptom that may be caused by illness, or medical treatment

Fatigue is a symptom that may be caused by illness, or medical treatment

Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness, exhaustion or lack of energy. It is a symptom that may be caused by illness, or medical treatment. A serious illness can make you feel tired, but some minor illnesses can also leave you feeling washed out.

The following 10 health conditions are well known medical causes of fatigue.

1. Anaemia is one of the most common medical reasons for feeling constantly run down and tired. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common form of anaemia and is mostly common in women who are still having periods. It is diagnosed with a simple blood test.

2. Coeliac disease is a food intolerance where the body reacts to gluten, a substance found in bread, cakes and cereals. It causes fatigue as well as other symptoms including; diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss. Coeliac disease is diagnosed with a blood test as well as a confirmatory endoscopic biopsy of the small bowel.

3. Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME) is a severe and disabling tiredness that persists for at least six months. Other symptoms can include a sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headache.

4. Sleep apnoea is a condition where the throat narrows or closes during sleep and repeatedly interrupts breathing, resulting in snoring and a decrease in blood oxygen levels. Consequently, sleep quality is poor resulting in daytime fatigue.

5. Underactive thyroid is a condition where there is too little thyroid hormone in the body and can result in tiredness. Weight gain, menstrual irregularities, dry scaly skin and aching muscles are also commonly associated with an underactive thyroid. It is diagnosed by taking a blood sample.

6. One of the main symptoms of diabetes is tiredness. Other key symptoms include thirst, frequency of urination and weight loss. A simple blood test can diagnose this condition which places patients at increased risk of cardiovascular disease if left untreated or if poorly managed.

7. Glandular fever is a common viral infection that causes fatigue along with fever, sore throat and swollen glands. The symptoms of glandular fever usually clear within four to six weeks, but fatigue can linger for several months.

8. As well as feelings of sadness, depression can also make you feel drained and can affect sleep patterns which can subsequently exacerbate symptoms.

9. Restless leg syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system that affects the legs and causes an irresistible urge to move them. Sleep will subsequently be disrupted and of poor quality resulting in daytime fatigue.

10. Constant, uncontrollable feelings of anxiety are symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder. As well as feeling worried and irritable, people often feel tired.

If fatigue is prolonged or interfering with daily life, consult your GP to organise a consultation and blood test.