All of us feel tired occasionally, and most of the time we know why. But for some of us, this tiredness just won’t go away! One of the most common complaints at clinics all over the world is,
“I feel tired ALL the time!”
statistics from many studies show that in some countries, almost 70% of people are tired almost all week.
In Medicine, every medical condition has a name, and so does this condition of prolonged tiredness: it’s called “TATT”, Tired All The Time.
When this situation becomes so severe and disabling, and goes on for a long time without a clear cause, we give it a new name: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
This “TATT”…Is It Serious?
On the long run, being tired all the time can drop your productivity at work and at school. Very often, people have been misunderstood and eventually fired from work because of this.
Prolonged tiredness can ruin relationships between close buddies, colleagues, and even a family. It makes people highly irritable and can cause little frictions here and there, which often snowball into divorce! A couple once had this problem and all the while, they weren’t able to put a finger on the cause…
Low self-esteem, lack of concentration, memory loss, weight changes (in any direction!), depression and even suicide are just a few consequences of this long term tiredness when not checked.
What Causes TATT?
There are two major causes: Physical, and psychological.
Physical Causes of Prolonged Tiredness
Poor sleep and rest. Obvious, right? One problem with a lot of folks is that they just don’t take time to rest. I agree, sometimes it can’t be helped: too much work at the office and it has to be carried home till after midnight; so many critical patients in a hospital with too few doctors; how about those horrible house chores (oh, how I hate doing laundry!)…we could go on and on.
But sometimes it’s your fault! You hang out late with your guys, watch late-night movies and stuff-all on a week day! Well, there’s work tomorrow, and I can bet, you’ll pay…
If you don't sleep well for a long time, you can start to feel tired, irritable and fed up.
Water! Did you know that when you feel thirsty, you’re already quite dehydrated?
Let’s put it another way: in the early stages of dehydration, fatigue occurs even before you start to feel thirsty.
You really are what you eat. You should expect to be tired all the time if your favourite meal is made of flat, processed stuff including pastry and ice-cream. These foods lack fibre and important nutrients like iron. Alcoholics usually have poor appetite, which leads to bad nutrition. The result? TATT!
Yo! Couch Potatoes! Doing too little, or not getting enough exercise and thus getting unfit is an established recipe for troublesome tiredness.
Physical illness: almost any illness can cause tiredness. There’s the flu; malaria in many tropical countries like Nigeria; and other fevers.
Anaemia is a condition in which there is reduced haemoglobin in the blood. Haemoglobin is that part of blood which carries oxygen to the brain and other body parts. In anaemia, the body does not have enough oxygen to go round at a time. What comes next? Fatigue.
Diabetes is another very common culprit when it comes to fatigue. In many people with diabetes, tiredness may be the first and only noticeable symptom there for a long time…
The thyroid gland is a special organ located in our necks, responsible for timing many of the body’s normal functions. Reduced functioning of this gland, a condition known as Hypothyroidism, also brings about fatigue among other symptoms.
Persistent tiredness is such a big deal, also because it may point to other problems like heart failure, liver and kidney failure, cancer, and so many other serious illnesses.
Drugs like codeine, many other pain killers, certain blood pressure medications and illicit substances have fatigue on their A-list of side effects.
Psychological Causes of Tiredness
Back then, we used to say, “…oh, it’s psychological. It’s not serious…” But these days, “Oh my! It’s psychological! This is serious!”
Worry: worry makes you feel tired. It’s like running on the spot for an hour-you get nowhere, and you’re left with no energy. That’s what worry does.
Everyday stress: everyone gets stressed-out and exhausted when bad things happen to them. Even “good” events, like moving homes or getting married, can take some serious energy out of you. Being faced with difficult decisions can also exhaust you.
Emotional shock: bad news such as a dreaded diagnosis, bereavement or the break-up of a relationship can leave you feeling drained.
Are you a “perfectionist”? Do you expect too much of yourself? Well, everybody has standards - at work and in other areas of their personal lives. Standards are usually helpful in that they give you a sense of direction. But, if you expect too much of yourself, you can find yourself repeatedly failing. Then comes the feeling of frustration and tiredness.
It’s ok to feel down once in a while, but if you’re sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, then you need to seek help.
Depression is a state of low mood. It is a very common but serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel and the way you think and act.
It tends to make you feel tired all the time. Depressed people often wake early which can make them feel even more tired.
Are YOU Always Tired?
Drink water! Many doctors in the UK recommend about 2 litres of water a day, and in the tropics and on hot days, you need about 3 litres a day. Stick to this plan and you’ll be shocked at how lifted and cool you’ll feel!
Get up and "move it-move it"! Exercise! Start with small amounts, say 5 minutes a day of brisk walking. Then after every seven days, increase this by 5 minutes progressively until you achieve 30 minutes of exercise daily. Take Dance classes. All this stuff is great when you do it with a partner too.
Sleep tight. No late-night movies nor snacks. Try a very warm shower before bed. Light music or reading relaxes some people at bedtime.
Ensure you eat foods rich in fibre: you’ve got fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Cut down seriously on coffee, tea, cola drinks, energy drinks and…I’m sorry, chocolate too! They all contain caffeine or tyramine-the arch enemies of sleep.
Keep a simple and achievable To-do list. Plan your day or week.
Stop ALL unprescribed meds. Even some pain-killers cause sleeplessness or tiredness.
Reconnect with friends. Share feelings with close friends and loved ones.
Connect with your clinic. Your doctor will carefully listen to you, thoroughly examine you, and help you find the reason and treatment for this troublesome fatigue.
So, friends, let’s move it this week!