Dr. Andrew Rynne is a general medical practitioner practicing in Clane, Co. Kildare, Ireland. Dr. Rynne specializes in vasectomy, Testosterone Replacement Therapy and fixing sexual dysfunctions in men and women. He also provides an Online Medical Consultation Service at http://www.medicaladviceforyou.com where you can consult... more
Why am I tired all the time?
This is one of the most common questions asked in a general practice setting. Chronic fatigue or tiredness may or may not represent a disease or illness. Usually it does not reflect any underlying malady and is brought about by natural causes.
Here is a brief rundown of the most common causes together with some notes. It starts with the rarest and moves down to the most common:
- Hypothyroidism. An under-active thyroid gland is a rare cause for chronic tiredness. There will usually be other symptoms such as a goiter, dry hair and skin and a cessation of periods in women. More than 20 million Americans currently suffer from a form of thyroid disease.
- Anemia. This may be caused by poor diet or chronic blood loss. To test for it you need a blood test called a CBC or complete blood count. Anemia is by far the most common blood disorder. If you have other underlying conditions such as intestinal disorders, you could be at risk for developing anemia.
- Sleep Apnea. This gives rise to chronic sleep deprivation leading to chronic tiredness after such a disturbed night’s sleep. If you live on your own, or sleep in a bedroom by yourself, you may not know that you have this condition. If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to much more serious conditions.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is a rare disease where the patient is tired all the time regardless of how much sleep they get. CFS is not yet fully understood by physicians. It can affect people of all ages.
- Narcolepsy. This is a rare brain disorder where the sufferer keeps falling asleep even at the most inopportune moments, like in the middle of a conversation for example. It is a pathological form of sleepiness and needs specialist investigation and attention. It can be misdiagnosed, and due to this sometimes goes untreated. The exact cause is not known, but it has been found to be genetic in some cases.
- Insufficient sleep at night. This may be due to chronic anxiety or stress keeping the patient awake or not allowing her fall into a restful slumber. People need to face up to their stressors and maybe go for some psychotherapy. Sleeping pills are never the answer. Admission to emergency rooms because of sleeping pills has increased over the past decade.
- Natural circadian rhythm. For many people, for most people in fact, wanting to have a nap or siesta in the afternoon is normal and natural. All over the world, businesses close down for a few hours mid-afternoon to allow for this. But not everywhere unfortunately. Where people are forced to work through their sleepy periods there will be tiredness, poor productivity and malcontent. In my view, it is a mistake of employers not to allow their employees take a nap in the afternoon. Doing so would improve productivity and morale all round. Naps are proven to improve alertness, performance in all aspects, and overall mood.