Tiredness is a very common complaint people present to GPs with. Approximately one out of 15 consultations in my surgery can be about this topic.
I hope to cover the common reasons for fatigue and when you should look into it more.
Most people have fatigue from their lifestyle or recent stresses. It is worth ensuring you have plenty of “downtime”. Everyone needs part of their day to relax and unwind. Excessive answering of work emails commonly eat into people’s evenings and weekends.
Sometimes it is very obvious why tiredness has become part of life for some people – small children, big mortgages, stressful jobs and the tendency of particularly women to put their own needs last on their list of priorities.
Obvious reasons include:
  1. New babies and small children interrupting sleep.
  2. Sleeping too little, staying up late and burning the candle at both ends.
  3. Eating too little is a common reason. People on diets that exclude carbohydrates excessively can be very fatigued. It is important if you are on a restrictive diet to try and still include some carbohydrate, especially complex carbohydrates containing plenty of fibre for slow release energy.
  4. Too much refined sugar in the diet can also lead to blood sugar swings which prompt you to have another high sugar quick fix.
  5. Low iron due to heavy periods is a common reason in women and a simple blood test will check for this.
  6. Stressful events such as a house move or relationship breakup can also lead to exhaustion.
If you are excessively tired it is important to first of all look at your lifestyle and build a healthy routine. You should aim for a set bed time, restrict “screen time” before sleep and eat healthily.
When you tiredness has no obvious cause your GP will help you look for other symptoms.
If you have any of the following symptoms it is important to be seen by a doctor to ensure you do not have an underlying illness:
  1. Excessive thirst or excessive urination
  2. Changes in your stools or urine, especially the presence of blood.
  3. Swollen glands anywhere in your body.
  4. Signs of arthritis
  5. Excessive snoring
  6. Chest tightness or excessive fatigue after exercise.
  7. Irregular periods.
  8. Weight loss without dieting.
At a doctor’s visit bloods and other tests may be carried out together with a thorough physical exam to rule out any underlying disease such as underactive thyroid, infections, arthritis, heart problems, malignancy and depression, depending on your symptoms.
It is important to realise that although a situation can be very tough and you feel as if you have been tired constantly for months, worrying as to why can add to your stress and make the situation worse.
See your GP to exclude any physical reasons for the way you currently feel. Sometimes just ruling out a sinister cause can help. Evaluate your lifestyle, including your diet, alcohol intake, exercise regime and work-life balance, to see if there is room for improvement.
Sometimes, just stopping and looking at your lifestyle will help resolve the issue.

GP/Women & Children's Health Specialist



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