Some Illnesses Cause Fatigue
Sometimes, fatigue can be the first sign that something is wrong in your body. For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition that affects the joints, often complain of fatigue. People with cancer may feel fatigued from the disease, treatments, or both.
Many medical problems and treatments can add to fatigue. These include:
- Taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and medicines for nausea and pain
- Having medical treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, or recovering from major surgery
- Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Untreated pain and diseases like fibromyalgia
- Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
Managing a health problem may make the fatigue go away. Your doctor can help.
Tips For Preventing Fatigue
Avoid long naps and late-day caffeine fixes keep your afternoon naps to 30 minutes or less and avoid drinking caffeine after lunchtime. This can not only help you fall asleep faster come bedtime but improve the quality of your sleep too so you wake rested and energized.
Address bad habits quitting smoking is practically the best thing you can do for your health in general, no matter your age or health status. But, it can also fight fatigue by lowering your risk for tiresome lifestyle conditions like breathing problems and heart disease. Cutting excessive alcohol consumption can do the same thing.
Exercise regularly it might seem like rest should be on order if you are feeling fatigued, however, its the opposite that is true. Routine exercise helps to increase your appetite and improve your sleep as well as make you stronger, more flexible, and well, happier all things that can bolster energy levels.
Keep a daily journal recognizing patterns of fatigue will most aptly help you and the person you care for address them. Note diet, exercise, and nightly sleep habits as well as the times of day when you feel most fatigued and then start a conversation with your doctor to address it.
How Can My Doctor Manage Fatigue
To find out what is causing your fatigue, your healthcare provider will ask questions about your lifestyle and medications and will conduct a physical examination. They might order some lab tests to test blood and urine. If you are a woman of child-bearing age, your provider will probably order a pregnancy test.
To relieve fatigue, your provider will treat the condition or disorder thatâs causing it. Depending on your health, your treatment plan may include a combination of medication, exercise, or therapy. If youâre taking a medication that makes you feel exhausted, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of stopping the medication or trying another one.
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Mental Or Emotional Issues
Older adults often find themselves feeling stress from financial strains, health issues, or anxiety about what the future holds in store for them, which can cause fatigue.
Sometimes with retirement, boredom sets in or a feeling that life no longer holds purpose, which can lead to depression. Many older people experience grief with loss of partners or friends, or a move to a new environment from a home that held cherished memories. Both depression and grief can trigger fatigue.
People Who Reported More Fatigue Were More Likely To Die Within 27 Years
Subjects were followed for an average of 2.7 years until the end of 2019, thereby avoiding any increased mortality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. After controlling for several factors that could contribute to the likelihood of death, including depression, preexisting or underlying terminal illness, age, and gender, investigators found that participants with the highest level of reported fatigue were over twice as likely to die during the follow-up period compared with people who had less fatigue .
There has been research showing that people who increase their physical activity can decrease their fatigability score, said Dr. Glynn, a physical activity epidemiologist. And one of the best ways to increase physical activity which simply means moving more is by setting manageable goals and starting a routine, like a regular walk or scheduled exercise, she added.
Glynn points out that this time of year is known to be the time when people make and break resolutions to be more active. I hope our findings provide some encouragement to stick with exercise goals, she said.
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Holistic Approaches To Reducing Fatigue
When your aging loved ones fatigue has a relatively straightforward treatment , medical treatments are often available to help solve the problem. But fatigue is frequently at least somewhat influenced by your loved ones psychological state and overall well-being. In these cases, there are a number of holistic approaches that can prove helpful.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT is a type of talk therapy that uses a structured system that encourages rational thinking, and can be done in a one-on-one setting or group environment. It typically involves a person writing down their thoughts, working through them, and repeating the process. Therapy that uses CBT can help your loved one to work through any mental and emotional issues that are either being caused by the fatigue or are causing it in the first place. For fatigue sufferers that are also dealing with anxiety, anger, or depression, this therapeutic remedy may be the ideal fit.
- Regular exerciseLikewise, exercise is often recommended for older adults struggling with fatigue. Regular exercise has been shown to have similar effects to talk therapy in terms of reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Whether its walking, swimming, or doing gentle like Tai Chi, exercising can be a healthy, non-pharmacological way to treat the symptoms of fatigue.
What Can I Do To Manage Covid Fatigue
Fatigue can drain your energy and keep you from doing day-to-day things when youre down with a viral sickness like COVID-19 or long-haul COVID-19.
To manage your health and ease fatigue symptoms while youre sick or post-COVID, you should:
- Accept that fatigue is a real side effect of having COVID-19.
- Make sure to get a good nights sleep. This can help your body preserve energy.
- Try relaxation techniques like mindful meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, and tai chi. These can help to reduce stress and fatigue symptoms.
- Plan ahead on what you can get done with limited energy.
- Prioritize the tasks that are important. This will help you spend energy on only those things that need to be done.
- Delegate certain tasks to others who can complete them for you. This can include activities like grocery shopping or cooking.
- Try to stay active. A viral infection can knock your energy out, but moving and light exercise can energize you.
- Keep a diary on all things that either trigger your fatigue or make it worse. This will help you steer clear of energy-draining activities.
- Eat foods that give your body energy.
- Stay hydrated.
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Its Never Too Late To Start Exercising
Most adults over the age of 65 can safely exercise, even if they have a chronic illness, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians . If you havent been physically active in a while or if you arent sure if exercise would be recommended for someone with your health conditions, check in with your doctor first.
When it comes to which type of exercise is best, experts recommend including all four types:
- Endurance activities, such as walking or dancing
- Strength training, which can be done with body weight or a resistance band
- Balance moves, like standing on one foot
- Flexibility, which can be improved with yoga or stretching
Current guidelines recommend that people ages 65 and older get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Include strength training at least two days a week and practice short bouts of balance and flexibility moves every day.
How Can I Ease Or Relieve Fatigue
If a medical condition isnât causing your fatigue, lifestyle changes may improve your symptoms. To reduce fatigue, you can:
- Practice good sleep habits: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Donât drink caffeine, use electronics, or exercise right before bed. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Avoid toxins: Donât use illegal drugs, and drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
- Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet and plenty of water will keep your body nourished and hydrated.
- Manage stress: Yoga, mindfulness, meditation and regular exercise can help you relieve stress and gain more energy.
- See your healthcare provider: Make an appointment to rule out infections, disease, illness, vitamin deficiencies and other health conditions. You should also talk to your provider about medications youâre taking to see if they are causing your symptoms.
- Exercise often: Regular exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, vigorous exercise can help you feel more energetic once you get used to it. But exercising too much can cause fatigue, so talk to your provider about whatâs best for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Talk to your healthcare provider about your ideal weight, and try to stay within that range.
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Fatigue Symptoms & When To Seek Treatment
Many people use the term fatigue to describe sleepiness, but being fatigued is actually very different from being drowsy. Sleepiness is a short-term condition that can generally be traced to one specific cause, often overexertion or not getting enough sleep. If someone is sleepy, and then they take a nap or get a good nights sleep, theyll typically feel better and more refreshed shortly after. Fatigue, on the other hand, is a more long-term, all-encompassing condition. If your elderly loved one is fatigued, they may report feeling sleepy, but theyll also experience an overall lack of energy and motivation. And, they wont find relief from fatigue just by getting more sleep. You might notice that your loved one is sleeping more at night and napping throughout the day but never feeling truly rested.
Fatigue involves both physical and mental exhaustion. With regard to physical fatigue, your aging loved one may find it physically difficult to perform their normal activities. Some physical symptoms of fatigue include:
- Muscle weakness
- Mood swings
Fatigue whether physical, mental, or both generally requires prompt treatment. But, certain symptoms signal the need for emergency care. Be sure to seek emergency treatment if your loved one is experiencing chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, feelings of faintness, severe pain, or bleeding, or if theyre thinking about harming themselves or someone else.
What Medical Conditions Cause Fatigue
Hundreds of conditions and disorders lead to fatigue. Some of the most common causes of fatigue include:
- Disease and infection: Cancer, kidney disease and multiple sclerosis are just a few diseases that cause fatigue. Fatigue can also be a sign of infections such as mononucleosis, HIV and flu.
- Mental health conditions: Fatigue from depression or anxiety may make it difficult or impossible to perform daily activities.
- Autoimmune disorders: Fatigue is a symptom of many autoimmune diseases, including diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Hormonal imbalances: Problems with your endocrine system can lead to exhaustion. Hypothyroidism is a common cause of fatigue.
- Heart and lung problems: Fatigue is a common symptom of cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , emphysema and congestive heart failure.
- Deficiencies:Anemia and other vitamin deficiencies are often responsible for fatigue. Dehydration can cause fatigue because the body needs plenty of fluids to function.
- Weight problems and eating disorders:Anorexia, bulimia, obesity or being underweight can lead to fatigue and a range of other symptoms.
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Age-related muscle atrophy, which begins when people reach their 40s and accelerates when theyre in their 70s, is part of the problem. Muscle strength declines even more rapidly slipping about 15 percent per decade, starting at around age 50.
The solution: exercise, including resistance and strength training exercises and good nutrition, including getting adequate amounts of protein. Other causes of weakness can include inflammation, hormonal changes, infections and problems with the nervous system.
Watch for sudden changes. If youre not as strong as you were yesterday, thats not right, Wei said. Also, watch for weakness only on one side, especially if its accompanied by speech or vision changes.
Taking steps to address weakness doesnt mean youll have the same strength and endurance as when you were in your 20s or 30s. But it may mean doctors catch a serious or preventable problem early on and forestall further decline.
Pots: A Little Known Cause Of Extreme Fatigue
Everyone knows what being tired feels like at the end of a long day. But some people experience fatigue so severe and so seemingly random that its hard to describe. If that sounds familiar, there could be more going on than daily stress.
While there are many causes of fatigue, one of them is frequently missed and misdiagnosed: postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome . Physical medicine and neuromuscular specialist Tae Chung, M.D., answers questions about POTS and extreme fatigue as one of its symptoms.
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Is Pots More Common In Certain People
There are no established risk factors for POTS. However, it is known to run in families, so it could have a genetic component. Researchers have also established a link between POTS and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome . So if you have one of these conditions, you might also have the other.
A big group of those diagnosed with POTS is young women and teens. However, this doesnt mean they are more likely to develop this condition.
Appetite Loss You Dont Feel Like Eating And Youve Been Losing Weight
This puts you at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies and frailty and raises the prospect of an earlier-than-expected death. Between 15 and 30 percent of older adults are believed to have whats known as the anorexia of aging.
Physical changes associated with aging notably a reduced sense of vision, taste and smell, which make food attractive can contribute. So can other conditions: decreased saliva production constipation depression social isolation dental problems illnesses and infections and medications .
If you had a pretty good appetite before and that changed, pay attention, said Dr. Lucy Guerra, director of general internal medicine at the University of South Florida.
Treating dental problems and other conditions, adding spices to food, adjusting medications and sharing meals with others can all make a difference.
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Fatigue In Older Adults
Slowing down as you get older may feel like a natural part of aging, however, chronic fatigue and dissipating energy levels shouldnt be ignored. If you or someone you care for is feeling more and more tired each day and simply wiped out, you wont want to miss this guide on recognizing fatigue in older adults and what to do about it:
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue, morning stiffness, joint pain, inflamed joints
Rheumatoid arthritis , a type of inflammatory arthritis, is another cause of excessive fatigue. Because joint damage can result in disability, early and aggressive treatment is the best approach for rheumatoid arthritis.
Medications that may be used early in mild RA include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs
Other drugs used in more serious forms of RA include the anti-cytokine therapies , as well as shots and other forms of treatment.
Other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and Sjogren’s disease, may also cause fatigue.
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Symptoms And Signs Of Fatigue In Older Adults
Constantly feeling tired and low on energy can create harmful side effects for your aging loved one: as a result of dealing with ongoing fatigue, many older adults experience depression, mood swings, and anger. Fatigue in older adults can be inherently tricky to understandsome people assume fatigue is just a natural part of growing old, but many times there is a specific cause that is being overlooked. Exploring what might be behind your loved ones fatigue is essential to help them feel better. Signs of fatigue can include:
- Complaints of tiredness
- Sleeping too many hours overnight
- Napping throughout the day
- A lack of motivation
Recommendations For Future Research
Over a decade ago, the literature on nonspecific low back pain identified the likelihood of subcategories within the broad diagnosis of nonspecific low back pain as a potential cause of the failure of research studies to show benefit of treatment techniques., Similarly, people experiencing fatigue are a heterogeneous group. It is likely to be necessary to distinguish clinically relevant subgroups in research studies in order to accelerate the search for causal mechanisms and effective management options. Separating subtypes of fatigue is only beginning to occur in the field of fatigue research. This problem of heterogeneity, combined with the limitations of the assessment tools used in previous research, has contributed to the lack of evidence to guide practice. The challenges for the future are in separating aging-related fatigue from other fatigue experiences. A priority is to provide evidence that fatigue and fatigability are distinct and separable constructs. Fundamental problems with the measurement tools also need to be resolved in order to accurately monitor changes in fatigue experiences. Whether fatigue is truly an idiopathic condition, a sign of accelerated aging, or a symptomatic presentation of subclinical disease also is an essential topic for further research.
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