Possible Reasons For Shortness Of Breath And Fatigue
Shortness of breath literally means facing a difficulty in breathing due to lack of sufficient quantity of oxygen. It may affect one’s productivity while performing even daily tasks.
Shortness of breath literally means facing a difficulty in breathing due to lack of sufficient quantity of oxygen. It may affect ones productivity while performing even daily tasks.
Shortness of breath generally occurs due to infections, allergies, asthma or other nervous and respiratory disorders. Difficulty in breathing and fatigue are closely related to each other as the latter is a prominent indicator of a person suffering from shortness of breath. Frequent cough, fever and pain in the chest are the most general signs which highlight the presence of this disorder in an individual. You should contact your family doctor immediately, if you face any of the above problems as prevention is better than cure.
Tired All The Time Here Are The Most Common Causes Of Fatigue In Seniors
Medically reviewed by Dr. Kenneth Knowles, MD on February 16th, 2021
Fatigue is often dismissed as a lack of energy, but its a symptom that can quickly become debilitating. This extreme feeling of weakness and/or tiredness affects everyone differently and has a number of causes. Sometimes the explanation is simple, like not getting enough sleep. On the other hand, fatigue thats occurring frequently could be a symptom of more serious health concerns. For seniors, ongoing fatigue or weakness is often associated with the lattermaking it important to remain cautious and consult with a medical professional when experiencing any new, sudden feelings of fatigue. That said, here are some of the most common causes of fatigue in older adults:
What Are The Causes Of Muscle Weakness
Muscle weakness is commonly due to lack of exercise, ageing, muscle injury or pregnancy. It can also occur with long-term conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. There are many other possible causes, which include stroke, multiple sclerosis, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome .
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Fatigue In The Elderly
Fatigue is often considered to be a symptom rather than a condition and is different from general drowsiness, confusion, and excessive sleepiness. Many elderly patients use these symptoms interchangeably, making it difficult for their physicians to discern whether what they are experiencing is truly fatigue and if intervention is needed. Older adults are more likely to experience a reduction in certain hormone levels as well as suffer from chronic diseases, which increases the likelihood that they will experience fatigue.
Eating And Drinking Habits
Diet can affect how tired or energetic a person feels. Maintaining a moderate and well-balanced diet can lead to better health and better sleep.
Here are some tips to try:
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day.
- Eat snacks that are low in sugar.
- Avoid junk food and follow a well-balanced, healthful diet.
- Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
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How Is Fatigue Managed
Making sure you have good quality sleep can help you manage fatigue. Ensure you go to bed at the same time each night and stick to healthy sleep habits.
Eating a healthy diet and doing regular physical activity will also help improve your sleep and lessen fatigue. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables avoid junk food and try to avoid alcohol and caffeine since these can affect your sleep.
If you have fatigue, talk to your doctor about whether it is safe to drive or carry out your normal work duties.
Being Overweight Or Underweight
Overweight increases the risk of fatigue by increasing the risk of conditions that have fatigue as a common symptom, such as diabetes or sleep apnea.
Carrying more weight and experiencing joint or muscle pain can lead to or exacerbate fatigue.
Similarly, people with underweight may tire easily, depending on the cause of their condition. Eating disorders, cancer, chronic diseases, and an overactive thyroid can all cause weight loss, as well as excessive tiredness and fatigue.
If You Suffer From Fatigue Anxiety Depression Or A Combination Of The Three Youve Probably Been Told By Your Doctor That Its Due To A Chemical Imbalance In Your Brain
Many doctors jump to prescribe antidepressants, with 13 percent of Americans over the age of 12 reporting they took an antidepressant in the last month, according to the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics. In some cases, antidepressants might be beneficial, but in other cases they may be masking the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Unfortunately, most doctors dont dig deep enough to find out what may be the real cause. At Parsley Health, we use advanced testing to look at several variables that have been associated with anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Once we determine the root cause and develop a personalized treatment plan, were often able to reduce or eliminate the need for medications that treat these conditions.
Where To Get Help
- Your doctor
- Wilson J, Morgan S, Magin P, et al. 2014, Fatigue a rational approach to investigation, Australian Family Physician, vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 457-461, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. More information here.
- Fatigue, 2013, MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine. More information here.
- Fatigue, Mayo Clinic, USA. More information here.
- Fatigue in the workplace, WorkSafe Victoria. More information here.
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Conditions Affecting Brain Drive To Muscles
Anxiety: generalised tiredness can be caused by anxiety. This is due to overactivity of the bodys adrenaline system.
Depression: general weariness and a feeling of generalised tiredness can also be caused by depression.
Note: anxiety and depression are both conditions which tend to cause a sense of tiredness and fatigability rather than true weakness.
Chronic pain: a general effect on energy levels can result from chronic pain. Like anxiety, it stimulates the production of chemical substances in the body which respond to pain and injury. These chemicals lead to feelings of tiredness or fatigue. In chronic pain, true weakness can result, as muscles may not be used due to pain and discomfort.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Scientists have been researching chronic fatigue syndrome for many years, but they still dont know for sure what causes it.
Many doctors believe that the way some conditions interact within the body and mind might leave some people at risk for CFS. For example, if someone has a and is under a lot of stress, the combination of these two things might make them more likely to develop CFS.
These things are believed to interact with each other in this way, putting some people at risk for CFS:
- infections. Experts have wondered if infections like measles or Epstein-Barr virus might increase the risk for CFS. The role Epstein-Barr plays in CFS is not clear because studies have not confirmed it as a cause.
- problems with the immune system or the nervous system
- hormone imbalances
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Your B12 Levels Are Low
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, so vegans and vegetarians are most at risk for being deficient, as well as people with gastrointestinal issues, who may have difficulty absorbing the vitamin, and people on heartburn and reflux medications. The important vitamin is needed in order to make red blood cells and DNA and plays a major role in nerve function and mood. B12 helps to maintain the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells, which make it possible for cells to communicate.
But when levels are low, this communication becomes compromised, which can lead to neurological changes. B12 is also involved in the production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that regulate mood, so low levels could cause changes in the nervous system.
One study in the journal BMC Psychiatry followed 115 people with depression for six months and found that those with higher levels of B12 had a greater chance of recovery from depression, leading scientists to believe there is an association between B12 and mental health. Low levels of B12 have even been linked to .
Is It Sleepiness Or Fatigue
Sleepiness can occur when a person does not get enough good quality sleep, or when they have a lack of stimulation. It can also be a symptom of a health condition that interferes with sleep, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.
Sleepiness is more likely to be short-term than fatigue. It is usually treatable with regular and consistent sleep.
However, fatigue especially when it is chronic is often associated with a health condition or problem. It may also be its own chronic condition, called chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Fatigue is associated with many health conditions and lifestyle factors. The sections below will outline these in more detail.
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What Else Causes Fatigue
Some lifestyle habits can make you feel tired. Here are some things that may be draining your energy:
- Staying up too late. A good night’s sleep is important to feeling refreshed and energetic. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- Having too much caffeine. Drinking caffeinated drinks like soda, tea, or coffee late in the day can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Limit the amount of caffeine you have during the day and avoid it in the evening.
- Drinking too much alcohol.Alcohol changes the way you think and act. It may also interact with your medicines.
- Eating junk food. Say “no thanks” to food with empty calories, like fried foods and sweets, which have few nutrients and are high in fat and sugars. Choose nutritious foods to get the energy you need to do the things you enjoy.
- Getting too little or too much exercise. Regular exercise can boost your energy levels, but dont overdo it.
Why Am I So Tired
You may be asking yourself, Why am I always tired? Why cant I seem to get out of this low-energy fog? First of all, youre not alone. Fatigue is a common problem and can manifest as feeling tired physically and/or mentally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 15.3% of women and 10.1% of men regularly feel very tired or exhausted.
We all know that feeling exhausted reduces our ability to work effectively, manage day-to-day routines, and maintain family and social relationships. Extreme fatigue can cause us to be more prone to irritability and mood swings. Tragically, drowsiness when driving also causes about 72,000 car crashes a year in the U.S.
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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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Psychological Causes Of Fatigue
Studies suggest that psychological factors are present in at least 50 per cent of fatigue cases. These may include:
- Depression this illness is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
- Anxiety and stress a person who is chronically anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
- Grief losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.
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You Drink Alcohol In Excess
You might think happy hour is the ultimate way to unwind from your day, but the temporary effects of alcohol are just thattemporary. When you drink, alcohol increases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, and binds to and alters the neurotransmitter receptor GABA, which increases the effect of GABA and can have a calming effect in the moment. But it also interrupts other mood-regulating neurotransmitters, like serotonin. When these alcohol-induced effects wear off, you may experience a range of anxiety symptoms.
In the long term, excessive drinking makes neurons less excitable and permanently changes the mRNA and protein levels in GABA receptors. This makes the receptors less sensitive, so the brain needs more GABA. Without it, symptoms of anxiety can result. This doesnt necessarily mean you have to completely remove alcohol from your life, but take at least three nights off per week from drinking and always drink in moderation.
Mix Up Your Caffeine Source
Coffee has its health benefits, including anti-inflammatory antioxidants and maybe even a connection to longer life spans. However, coffee can also boost levels of epinephrine and cortisol, two chemicals involved in the bodys stress response. Drinking lots of coffee leads to increased alertness and heart rate that feels energizing for a few hours but might have you feeling drained later that day.
Some of us are fast caffeine metabolizers and clear caffeine much faster, while slow metabolizers take longer to clear it from their body. Genetic tests like 23andMe can tell you which group you fall into. People with normal sensitivity to caffeine can usually have 200-400 mg of caffeine daily without any adverse reactions so long as they consume it early enough in the day.
Given the potential connection between stress and fatigue, avoiding the stress response that coffee brings might help with both symptoms. If you want to stick with coffee, try staying below 1 or 2 cups and consuming them before 12pm to ensure the caffeine doesnt interfere with sleep. Alternatively, hot tea can offer the same antioxidants and satisfying sipping ritual but with less stress-inducing caffeine.
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When Is Being Too Tired A Problem
Let’s face it: We aren’twhat we used to be as we get on up there. Aging has many wonderful aspects, butone of the many problems is that we do not have the stamina and energy we didwhen younger. That is a normal part of aging and just something that comes withthe territory. However, being excessively tired or listless can be termedfatigue.
Try Complementary Alternative Medicine
Complementary alternative medicine can aid in managing fatigue symptoms.
Researchers sent a survey to 2,728 households in the United States. Of the 884 who completed the survey, 440 reported experiences of fatigue. A large amount of those individuals partook in CAM therapies, and prayer was the most popular.
Participants with fatigue indulged in mindfulness and relaxation techniques more often than the general population. More than any other group, individuals with chronic fatigue due to an illness mainly engaged in massages and chiropractic work, most likely because of physical fatigue and muscle pain.
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When To See A Doctor For Your Fatigue
If youre still feeling tired all the time despite doing all you can to improve your diet, sleep and exercise habits, its time to see a doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and lifestyle and see if you have any other medical issues or are taking any medications. Your doctor may ask you to have various tests to see if you have another medical condition that is causing your extreme fatigue. If this is the case, you will get the answer to why you feel exhausted and be on your way to being treated and feeling better.
Genetic Conditions Affecting Muscles
Muscular dystrophies: these are inherited diseases which affect muscles. They are rare disorders but the best known and most common is Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This occurs in children and leads to gradual loss of muscle power from toddler-hood.
Some rare muscular dystrophies: these can present in adulthood and include Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome and the facioscapulohumeral dystrophies. They also cause gradual loss of power and function in muscles. Those who have these conditions may become wheelchair-bound.
Sarcoidosis: this is a rare disease in which clumps of cells form in skin, lungs and soft tissues, including muscles. The condition usually goes away after a few years.
Amyloidosis involves deposits of an ‘unhelpful’ abnormal protein called amyloid throughout the body, including muscles and kidneys.
Other rare causes: direct damage to muscles can occur in rare inherited metabolic conditions. Examples include:
- Glycogen storage diseases .
- Even rarer, mitochondrial diseases which occur when the energy systems inside muscle cells don’t work properly.
Myotonic dystrophy: this is a rare genetic muscle disorder in which muscles become extremely tired. Myotonic dystrophies are passed down through families and they tend to occur earlier and become worse as they move through the generations.
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What Exams Procedures And Tests Diagnose The Cause Of Fatigue
For the evaluation of fatigue, the health care practitioner will take a complete history of the patients fatigue, along with questions in regard to associated symptoms. The health care practitioner may inquire about the following activities and symptoms to determine the probable cause of the fatigue:
Quality of Life
Does the level of fatigue remain constant throughout the day? Does the fatigue get worse as the day goes on, or does the fatigue begin at the start of the day? Is there a pattern to the fatigue ? Does the fatigue occur at regular cycles? How is the persons emotional state? Does the person feel unhappiness or disappointment in life? Sleep pattern determination. How much sleep is the person getting? During what hours does the person sleep? Does the person awake rested or fatigued? How many times does the person awake during sleep? Are they able to fall back asleep? Does the person get regular exercise? Any exercise? Has the person had any new stressors in their life? Change in relationships, jobs, school, or living arrangements? What is the persons diet? Is there a high intake of coffee, sugar, or excessive amounts of food?
The definitive diagnosis depends on discovering the underlying cause of the fatigue this is determined by evaluating the history, the physical exam and the appropriate test results.