The long-term cases of COVID fatigue just added one more cause to the list of reasons that trigger this feeling of extreme tiredness that can affect daily life.
Doctors are noticing that more and more people are suffering from this type of burnout. What to do when it goes from being a passing symptom with a recognizable trigger (a plane ride, a physical exercise routine, the exhaustion of the first day at a new job) to a chronic condition.
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Fatigue can be helpful. It can be a warning sign that the body needs to relax after strenuous exercise. Or it can make you rest if you get sick. But more often, fatigue creates problems. It can be an overwhelming and long-lasting feeling of exhaustion that makes it hard to do everyday tasks.
“There are different aspects of fatigue. It is generally accepted that feelings of fatigue can mean difficulty starting or continuing an activity,” explains Vicky Whittemore, M.D., who participates in NIH fatigue research programs, at NIH News in Health . “It can involve the perception that the effort to perform an activity is more than what should be necessary.”
Fatigue is different from sleepiness . Drowsiness is feeling the need to sleep. Fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. Sleepiness and apathy (a feeling that nothing matters) can be accompanying symptoms of fatigue.
It is one of the most common symptoms of people with COVID-19, and your tiredness can persist. This is on top of the many other causes of fatigue that existed before the pandemic, such as lack of sleep, mental health issues, and health conditions like anemia or heart disease. In general, it seems, we are a tired nation.
Fatigue is a common symptom and is usually not due to a serious illness. But it can be a sign of a more serious physical or mental disorder. When fatigue is not relieved by adequate sleep, proper nutrition, or a low-stress environment, it should be evaluated by your health care provider.
The doctor must observe what may be behind this symptom. It can be caused by viral infections, certain medications, unhealthy eating, cancer and its treatments, depression or anxiety, and more.
Because it has so many possible causes, it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose the sources of a person’s fatigue. This can make it difficult to develop an effective treatment plan. But your doctor can help you determine where to start.
Making lifestyle changes can bring relief to some people. But these changes may not be enough for everyone. Certain health conditions can contribute to burnout. Some are treatable, such as a vitamin or mineral deficiency. But not much is known about other causes of fatigue.
Advice for dealing with fatigue from the UK National Health System :
- Keep on moving
- Lose weight if necessary, to gain energy
- Sleep well
- Try to reduce stress
- Talk to a counselor or therapist if you feel you need one
- Reduce the consumption of caffeine
- drink less alcohol
- drink more water