Fatigue: to know the cause to better treat it

Are you still tired? Fatigue! That does not mean you do not sleep enough. Seeking the cause will help you find the solution.

There are difficult mornings. And when we finally get out of bed, we do not always find the strength to make the slightest effort. During the day, it’s hard to concentrate.

Fatigue is a bit like cutting yourself with paper or making bad dreams, it falls on us without warning. And it is a scourge so common that a third of patients report it to their doctor.

Most of the time, it is the body’s normal response to the vagaries of life: stress, lack of sleep, extra work. And as we can not always avoid these inconveniences, Dr. Tom Declercq, professor of medicine at the University of Ghent, Belgium, advises getting more rest. “It’s very important to listen to your body when it calls for more sleep,” he says.

But if you can often recover from your tiredness by sleeping more or changing your lifestyle, it sometimes signals a more serious problem. If despite these corrective measures, it persists for more than two weeks, it is better to consult your family doctor and describe in detail what you are doing to help identify the cause.

Although generally described as a lack of energy and motivation, fatigue can be physical, mental, or both. Before the medical appointment, ask yourself these questions: even after a long night’s sleep, am I really refreshed? Do I have trouble concentrating on my projects? Does the slightest activity exhaust me?

If your tiredness is accompanied by fever, you may be suffering from an infection. If you feel dizzy, however, you will think of anemia. Difficult breathing directs towards a cardiac pathology. Sadness or nervousness will cause depression or anxiety. In this case, an antidepressant or a cognitive-behavioral therapy could help you. Fatigue that suddenly arises, persists and is accompanied by unexplained weight loss or night sweats can be a sign of cancer.

Of course, you have to look at the quantity and quality of your sleep. Poor sleep hygiene – like sleeping with a pet or watching a screen late at night – can compromise your rest. Sleep apnea is also often implicated: some 6.4% of Canadians suffer from it – they stop breathing 10 seconds more than once during their sleep.

Alcohol consumption, whatever it is, harms sleep, and the effect is directly proportional to the amount ingested. Alcohol may make sleep easier, but it disrupts circadian rhythms and, as a result, prevents restorative sleep.

When is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic intolerance to stress? There is no test to diagnose this condition, but the disease is characterized by a condition deep and prolonged fatigue (at least six months), with no identifiable cause, which disrupts cognitive functions and causes a debilitating state of exhaustion at the least physical or mental effort. We do not know how many people suffer from CFS or what may be the cause.

Although this is not a cure, exercise is useful when fatigue is persistent. “It’s not a good idea to sit and do nothing when you’re suffering from chronic fatigue,” says Dr. Declercq. It’s better to move. “