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When Rest Doesn't Relieve Fatigue

By Sims, Jane
Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

Fatigue refers to an overwhelming sense of tiredness and lack of energy. It can usually be cured by getting more sleep, managing stress, and backing off from hard physical workouts or mental and emotional challenges.

When such measures don't help, something more serious may be at work that may require a doctor's attention.

Common causes

Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Other signs of depression include eating or sleeping disturbances, excessive crying, and an inability to enjoy life. Depression is a treatable illness that responds to psychotherapy and antidepressant medication.

Viral illnesses, such as the flu, can cause ongoing fatigue, often up to one month after an illness passes.

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can cause fatigue as well. OTC medications that can cause drowsiness include pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, antihistamines, and allergy medicines. Prescription medications that can cause fatigue include tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and blood pressure drugs.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

If you have extreme fatigue for six or more months, you could have chronic fatigue syndrome, the CDC says. Look for these symptoms:

  • Loss of short-term memory

  • Sore throat

  • Pain in multiple joints

  • A new type of headache

  • Sleep problems

Tips for dealing with fatigue:

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

  • Get enough sleep. Most people need six to eight hours each night to feel rested.

  • Back off of caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and will make you feel tired. Caffeine gives you a burst of energy, followed by an energy drop.

  • Reduce stress by cutting back on activities and taking time to relax and feel refreshed.

  • Take breaks each day.

See your doctor

If you have ongoing fatigue without an obvious cause, see your health care provider. Chronic exhaustion could be a sign of anemia, diabetes, mononucleosis, or fibromyalgia.

Medical Reviewer: Godsey, Cynthia MS, MSN, APRN Last Annual Review Date: 2011-05-16T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: © Health Ink & Vitality Communications
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