We’ve all had days when we feel a little drained, or wish that we could stay in bed a little longer. However, if you feel exhausted most or all of the time, it could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Fatigue is a non-specific symptom, meaning that it has multiple possible causes. We can experience both physical fatigue (characterized by muscle weakness) and mental fatigue (sleepiness, confusion, difficulty concentrating), and we may have both physical and mental fatigue at the same time. Sometimes fatigue will go away when you make a few changes (e.g. getting on a regular sleeping schedule, eating a healthy diet), but other times it may persist and become chronic fatigue.
So how do you know when your fatigue is a symptom of a serious health issue? Below are some examples of situations where you should make an appointment with your doctor.
Your efforts to get more rest and reduce stress haven’t paid off. If you’ve been getting enough sleep and making efforts to relax but still have persistent chronic fatigue after two or more weeks, your fatigue is likely a symptom of a health problem and not just run-of-the-mill tiredness.
You have difficulty falling or staying asleep. If you set aside 7 to 9 hours for sleep but find yourself lying awake for hours on end—or waking up and being unable to go back to sleep—see your doctor. He or she might recommend that you complete an overnight sleep study to determine if you have a sleeping disorder.
You feel sad, apathetic, or helpless. These could be signs that you have depression, which commonly causes fatigue.
You have recently started taking any new medications. Fatigue could be a side effect of one of your prescription drugs. Tell your doctor about all medications you are taking; you may need a new dosage or different treatment.
You have unexplained weight changes. Sudden weight gain or loss accompanied by fatigue could be a sign of an underactive or overactive thyroid gland. If this has been an issue, your doctor should be able to perform a blood test to measure your thyroid levels.
You have persistent headaches. Headaches and other types of recurring pain, such as a sore throat, muscle pain, or joint pain, sometimes accompany chronic fatigue.
Provigil Is A Medication Prescribed for Chronic Fatigue
Fortunately, there are different treatment options available for fatigue, depending on the cause. Discuss your medical history with your doctor to help determine the cause of your fatigue and the best course of treatment for you.