Any serious illness, especially painful ones, can make you tired. But some quite minor illnesses can also leave you feeling washed out. Here are 10 health conditions that are known to cause fatigue.
Sick or tired? If you’re getting your eight hours of sleep a night but still feel exhausted, it’s time to see a doctor. It’s also worth seeking medical advice if you have any of these symptoms: confusion dizziness blurred vision unexplained weight loss or gain swelling constipation insomnia depression headaches
1. Coeliac disease Is a type of food intolerance where your body reacts badly when you eat gluten, a substance found in bread, cakes and cereals. There are 250,000 diagnosed cases in the UK, but research suggests that up to 90% of sufferers don’t know they have it. Other symptoms of coeliac disease, apart from tiredness, are diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss. Your GP can check if you have coeliac disease through a blood test. Read more about coeliac disease.
2. Anaemia One of the most common medical reasons for feeling constantly run down is iron deficiency anaemia. It affects around one in 20 men and post-menopausal women, but may be even more common in women who are still having periods. Typically, you’ll feel you can’t be bothered to do anything, your muscles will feel heavy and you’ll get tired very quickly. Women with heavy periods and pregnant women are especially prone to anaemia. Read more about iron deficiency anaemia.
3. Chronic fatigue syndrome Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME) is a severe and disabling tiredness that goes on for at least six months. There are usually other symptoms, such as a sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headache. Read more about chronic fatigue syndrome.
4. Sleep apnoea Sleep apnoea is a condition where your throat narrows or closes during sleep and repeatedly interrupts your breathing. This results in bad snoring and a drop in your blood’s oxygen levels. The difficulty in breathing means that you wake up often in the night, and feel exhausted the next day. It’s most common in overweight, middle-aged men. Drinking alcohol and smoking makes it worse. Read more about sleep apnoea.
5. Underactive thyroid An underactive thyroid gland means that you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired. You’re also likely to put on weight and have aching muscles. It’s most common in women, and it happens more often as you get older. Your GP can diagnose underactive thyroid by taking a simple blood test. Read more about underactive thyroid.
6. Diabetes One of the main symptoms of diabetes, a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood, is feeling very tired. The other key symptoms are feeling very thirsty, going to the toilet a lot, and weight loss. Your GP can diagnose diabetes with a blood test. Read more about diabetes. Find your local diabetes support services.
7. Glandular fever Glandular fever is a common viral infection that causes fatigue along with fever, sore throat and swollen glands. Most cases happen in teenagers and young adults. Usually, glandular fever symptoms clear up within four to six weeks, but the fatigue can linger for several more months. Read more about glandular fever.
8. Depression As well as making you feel very sad, depression can also make you feel drained of energy. And it can stop you dropping off to sleep or cause you to wake up early in the morning, which makes you feel more tired during the day. Read more about depression. Find your local depression support services and your local depression self help groups.
9. Restless legs This is when you get uncomfortable sensations in your legs, which keep you awake at night. You might have an overwhelming urge to keep moving your legs, or a deep ache in your legs, or your legs might jerk spontaneously through the night. Whatever your symptoms, your sleep will be disrupted and of poor quality, so you’ll feel very tired through the day. Read more about restless legs.
10. Anxiety Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, some people have constant, uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, which are so strong that they affect their daily life. Doctors call this generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). It affects around around one in 20 people in the UK. As well as feeling worried and irritable, people with GAD often feel tired. Read more about anxiety. Find your local anxiety support services.