Fatigue is common after a restless night, stressful experience, change in routine, or recent illness.
However, ongoing (chronic) fatigue is entirely different, characterized by persistent and sometimes debilitating tiredness that lasts for an extended period, eventually interfering with your daily activities and overall quality of life.
Family medicine specialist and female physician Dr. Poonam Malhotra at Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, offers her professional insight regarding the causes of chronic fatigue and steps to take to overcome its interference in your life.
What causes chronic fatigue?
There are many possible causes of long-term fatigue, including:
One of the primary culprits behind daily tiredness is sleep disorders. Conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy can disrupt the sleep cycle, preventing you from achieving restorative sleep.
Lack of quality sleep leads to fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Poor sleep habits also increase your risk of hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic ailments.
Certain medical conditions can contribute to chronic fatigue. Examples include fibromyalgia, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes.
These conditions often involve complex physiological changes and may affect your energy levels and overall well-being. Some medications, including allergy medicines, can also cause you to feel tired.
Mental health issues
Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression can manifest as chronic fatigue. The mind and body are interconnected; prolonged emotional distress can drain energy reserves, leading to persistent tiredness.
Inadequate intake of essential nutrients can impact energy levels and contribute to chronic fatigue. Deficiencies in critical vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids may impair metabolic processes and affect overall vitality.
Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to deconditioning of the body, reducing cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Consequently, individuals may experience fatigue even during light activities due to decreased physical capacity.
Managing chronic fatigue
The first step in managing chronic fatigue is identifying its underlying cause.
During your initial evaluation at Central Clinic, Dr. Malhotra reviews your symptoms, performs a physical exam, and may recommend diagnostic tests before providing appropriate treatment options tailored to your situation.
Based on evaluation results, your strategy may include the following:
Chronic disease management
Improved control of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, or arthritis can help restore healthy energy levels. You may also benefit from weight management since excess pounds are another common cause of physical deconditioning and fatigue.
Improved sleep hygiene
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule (7-8 hours per night), creating a calm sleeping environment, limiting exposure to electronic devices before bed, and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can all help induce quality restorative sleep.
Managing stress and mental health
Stress-reducing activities like yoga, mindfulness, and routine physical exercise can all help combat chronic fatigue. You may also benefit from medication or counseling to help develop stress management strategies and improve your overall well-being.
Adopting a balanced diet rich in whole foods can optimize energy levels. Dr. Malhotra can provide guidelines for optimizing nutrition with a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats daily.
Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can boost energy levels. Start with low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling, gradually increasing intensity and duration.
Dr. Malhotra can design a personalized exercise plan that suits your current fitness level and progresses as your physical conditioning improves.
Schedule an evaluation at Central Clinic today for more help understanding and managing fatigue. Call the office or request an appointment online.