How Tired Is Too Tired?
Fibromyalgia and Fatigue
Symptoms: Chronic fatigue, deep muscle pain, painful tender points, sleep problems, anxiety, depression
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common causes of relentless fatigue and muscle pain, especially in women. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are considered separate but related disorders. They share a common symptom -- severe fatigue that greatly interferes with people's lives.
With fibromyalgia, you may feel that no matter how long you sleep, it's never restful. And you may feel as if you are always fatigued during daytime hours. Your sleep may be interrupted by frequent waking. Yet you may not remember any sleep disruptions the next day. Some people with fibromyalgia live in a constant 'fibro fog' -- a hazy, mental feeling that makes it difficult to concentrate.
Constant daytime fatigue with fibromyalgia often results in diminished exercise. That causes a decline in physical fitness. It can also cause mood-related problems. The best way to offset these effects is to try to exercise more. Exercise has a tremendous beneficial effect on sleep, mood, and fatigue.
If you do try swimming (or any moderate exercise) to ease fatigue, start slowly. As you become accustomed to the added physical activity, you can increase your time in the pool or gym. Set up a regular time for exercise, but watch overdoing it to avoid added fatigue.
Food Allergies, Food Intolerance, and Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue, sleepy, continually exhausted
Although food is supposed to give you energy, some doctors believe hidden food intolerances -- or allergies -- can do the opposite. In fact, fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance or food allergy.
Ask your doctor about the elimination diet. This is a diet in which you cut out certain foods that cause a variety of symptoms, including sleepiness within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them. You can also talk to your doctor about a food allergy test -- or invest in a home test such as ALCAT -- which may help you identify the offending foods.
Heart disease and Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue with an activity that should be easy
If you find yourself becoming exhausted after activity that used to be easy, it may be time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. If your fatigue is related to your heart, medication or treatment procedures can usually help correct the problem, reduce the fatigue, and restore your energy.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue, morning stiffness, joint pain, inflamed joints
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the inflammatory type of arthritis, is another cause of excessive fatigue. It also causes pain and stiffness. 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 (NSAIDs)
- disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
Other drugs used in more serious forms of RA include the anti-cytokine therapies (anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha agents), as well as injections and other forms of treatment.