RVNA Today: Is it just fatigue?

Everyone has their days when they feel tired and weary, but if fatigue plagues you frequently, it might be an indication of something more significant that could be affecting your overall health. Here are signs that you should take fatigue seriously: you’re unable to do the activities you enjoy; you wake up exhausted, even after a good night’s sleep; you don’t feel motivated to begin the day; you experience sudden bouts of exhaustion that go away and then return; you have shortness of breath. These could point to a more serious medical condition, and you should consult your doctor.

Things you might be evaluated for include anemia, heart disease, a sleep problem like apnea, medications that are affecting your energy level, low-grade depression or anxiety, or myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. For the garden variety tiredness that isn’t persistent, you can typically get a lift if you drink a cup of coffee or tea; take a walk outside or around the inside of your home for 30 minutes a day, or for 10 to 15 minutes several times daily; or catch a short midday nap of 20 to 30 minutes. While fatigue from time to time is normal, if it is impairing your quality of life, you shouldn’t ignore it. Make a point to talk with your health care provider to rule out potentially more serious underlying issues.