Seven Causes of Fatigue—and How to Fight Them!
BY Advocate Contributors
July 20 2011 5:00 AM ET
If you're not getting enough sleep, it stands to reason you'll be tired. But what if you don't know that you aren’t getting sufficient sleep? This is often the case with a condition called sleep apnea—a sleep disorder that causes you to momentarily stop breathing, often many times during the night. Each time you stop breathing, you awaken just long enough to disrupt your sleep cycle, usually without being aware of it. Your only clue, says Goldberg, is that you experience constant fatigue no matter how many hours you sleep each night.
According to Goldberg, sleep apnea, which is caused by an upper airway obstruction, often occurs in women who are overweight or obese. Snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea. Diagnosis requires a visit to a sleep lab, or to a doctor specializing in sleep apnea.
If you have sleep apnea, your physician will recommend lifestyle changes, including losing weight and quitting smoking. Medical treatment includes devices that keep airway passages open while you sleep. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to ensure proper airway flow. Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.
Undiagnosed Heart Disease
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.
According to Goldberg, when overwhelming fatigue sets in after ordinary tasks—such as vacuuming the house, doing yard work, or commuting from work each day—your heart may be sending out an SOS that it needs medical attention.
This doesn't mean that you should panic every time you yawn,” says Goldberg. “Most of the time, fatigue is not the first sign of heart disease, and it's usually linked to something far less serious.'
At the same time, Goldberg points out that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. “If fatigue following activity is significant, and no other possible reason comes to mind, see your doctor for a check–up,' she advises. 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.
[This report reprinted with permission of WebMD Medical News | By Colette Bouchez | Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD]