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Why am I so Tired? Causes, Managment

A lot of people complain of tiredness after a day’s work or after a physically demanding activity. Tiredness is a normal reaction of the body to excessive or strenuous activity. However, tiredness is only normal when it is associated with increased levels of activity. The presence of excessive tiredness without tangible reason can be associated with other underlying medical conditions.

Excessive tiredness is also called fatigue, lethargy, exhaustion, listlessness, languor or lassitude. Fatigue can be a physical or mental weakness associated with activity-induced muscle weakness or mental exhaustion.

Tiredness usually manifests either in physical fatigue, mental fatigue or both. Physical fatigue is experienced as an inability to perform one’s functioning at the level of normal capabilities. Mental fatigue, on the other hand, is the feeling of mental exhaustion and somnolence or sleepiness. Fatigue differs from drowsiness, as drowsiness is a normal response to needing sleep whereas fatigue is excessive.

Why am I so tired

Physical Tiredness

Physical tiredness specifically involves the inability to use muscles for physical exertion. Physical fatigue is associated with lack of strength and muscle weakness. Muscle weakness can be perceived or true, and can be central or peripheral. True muscle weakness involves significant loss of strength to undergo activities, while perceived weakness involves the sensation of having to increase the effort put into activities or tasks. Peripheral weakness involves the weakness or tiredness of certain muscles such as the hands, while central weakness involves general body weakness or overall fatigue.

Mental Tiredness

Mental fatigue does not involve tiredness of muscles, but of the mind. In mental fatigue, there is somnolence, decreased attention span and decreased level of consciousness. Mental fatigue is very dangerous for people who are required to do heavy tasks or operate machinery, such as driving. Mental fatigue has been observed as causing more vehicular accidents than physical fatigue. Mental tiredness should be differentiated from neurological deficits because these two can be similar in some symptoms.

Other symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue may also manifest as the following:

  1. Lack of quality sleep
  2. Headache
  3. Muscle pains
  4. Restlessness
  5. Lack of energy
  6. Malaise
  7. Feeling of being worn out

What is the Cause of My Excessive Tiredness?

Certain factors contribute to excessive tiredness. As discussed earlier, an acceptable level of tiredness after doing heavy work is normal, but the occurrence of easy fatigue can be in question. Here are the most common reasons for excessive tiredness or fatigue:

Temporary fatigue

Temporary fatigue occurs as a result of short-term strain on the body such as:

  1. Work exhaustion
  2. Over stimulation
  3. Mental Stress
  4. Excess Recreation
  5. Jet lag
  6. Depression
  7. Lack of sleep
  8. Boredom
  9. Poisoning
  10. Mineral and vitamin deficiencies
  11. Common cold
  12. Influenza
  13. Presence of Infection
  14. Blood loss from surgery, delivery or other conditions that are immediately corrected
  15. Use of certain medications

Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is a persistent feeling of exhaustion that may occur for more than six months, although prolonged fatigue may also be observed for at least one month. The excessive or easy fatigue a person may experience may be caused by certain underlying medical conditions such as:

Anemia and other red blood cell defects

The presence of anemia decreases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which leads to a decrease in oxygen supply that the body needs for energy production. The presence of anemia results in fatigue and decreased oxygenation to the brain, leading to physical and mental fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The presence of chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by various factors such as the presence of undiagnosed diseases.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

The presence of problems on the musculoskeletal system gives undue tension on the muscles and bones, which leads to over exhaustion and weakness.

Endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism and diabetes

The presence of hypothyroidism leads to a reduction in the metabolic rate, thus a decrease in energy production. The presence of diabetes allows glucose to circulate in the blood without being used by the cells for energy production, leading to weakness.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep is very essential for the body to regain the strength lost during the day. Absence of sleep does not allow the body to rest and thereby leads it to tiredness. Sleep deprivation may occur with increased pain and over stimulation.

Heart Disease

The heart is an important organ for maintaining good blood circulation. When the heart is not able to supply adequate blood to the peripheral areas of the body, then oxygenation and energy production is compromised.


The presence of malignant cells utilizes most of the glucose, fats and proteins in the body, leaving inadequate levels for the normal cells to use. As a result, cancer patients are usually emaciated and weak. The presence of chemotherapy also destroys the normal cells along with the malignant cells, leading to weakness.

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa

Anorexia and bulimia causes inadequate food intake due to cognitive disorders. Food is the chief source for glucose and other nutrients for the body. Poor nutrition leads to poor energy production.


Depression is a mood disorder leading to intense weakness and sadness. The body has enough energy, but the patient goes into deep sadness and hopelessness, affecting the body processes. People with depression usually are unable to tolerate intense physical activities because they become tired very easily.

Other conditions that cause chronic exhaustion include:

  1. Drug abuse
  2. Irritable bowel syndrome
  3. Malabsorption syndromes
  4. Leukemia
  5. Neurological disorders
  6. Stroke
  7. Uremia
  8. Fibromyalgia
  9. Liver failure

How to Manage Fatigue

The cause of fatigue should be officially diagnosed in order to come up with the most appropriate management. When a patient complains of having a lot of thoughts, which decreases their energy, it is often caused by mental fatigue. On the other hand, when the patient complains of weakness because of lack of energy, it may be physical fatigue. No matter the reason, fatigue is usually managed by having adequate rest. Tiredness can also be managed by increasing carbohydrate intake in the form of simple carbohydrates, to provide energy sources for the patient.

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