Common ailments

Tiredness and fatigue

I am 35 year old woman and for several months now I have been finding it difficult to stay alert at work. I feel tired and lethargic for most of the day. I eat well and exercise regularly, and I usually manage to get a good night’s sleep, so what could be the problem?

Tiredness and fatigue is one of the most common complaints I see in my surgery. More often than not, it isn’t linked to any medical problem and is simply an accumulation of the worries and strains of daily life. A medical cause is more likely if you are experiencing additional symptoms as well. These might include weight loss, thirst, heavy periods, hair loss or a change in bowel habits.

Your GP will be able to undertake a simple blood test to rule out the possibility of a medical cause such as an underactive thyroid gland or iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. One of the first signs of the condition therefore is feeling tired all the time without an identifiable reason. Other health complaints that can leave you feeling weary and lethargic include diabetes, kidney or liver disease as well as being overweight or underweight.

Apart from the above-mentioned physical causes for tiredness, there can also be psychological causes and these are often more commonplace. These can include anxiety, sleep problems and depression.

It may be common to feel tired most of the time but it certainly isn’t normal. If you’re worried then your GP can offer advice and reassurance, as well ruling out any underlying medical problem which could be causing your fatigue.

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