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BEYOND BODY

Overcoming Fatigue

"Feeling tired to the bone? Rev up and add zing to your life"
By: Ivan Olegario, MD, MDevComOvercoming Fatigue

Do these statements sound familiar? “I’m beat/spent/exhausted/depleted.” “I am dead-tired/out of gas.” “I feel worn out (and weary).” “I am not myself.” “Para akong kandilang nauupos.”

These are just some of the ways people describe fatigue. For doctors, fatigue is an important symptom, because it is a clear indication that a person is not feeling well. Importantly, fatigue affects a person’s well-being, both mental and emotional. The problem is that fatigue is a vague and very subjective complaint. That is why people have to rely on the above expressions to describe what they are feeling.

Physical vs mental fatigue

Fatigue can be physical fatigue or mental fatigue. The former is when your muscles function sub-optimally, leading to the feeling of fatigue. In contrast, the latter is when your brain functions have been “exhausted”, leading to poor memory, attention, concentration, and judgment.If you are sick, you may also feel irritable or listless, and your mental faculties decline.  Likewise, when you are mentally fatigued, you may lack the drive to physically perform at 100 percent.

Chronic fatigue

Everyone feels tired every once in a while. This is a normal reaction of the body to work, physical exertion, mental stress, overstimulation (noise), under stimulation (boredom), poor sleep, and jet lag. The cure for this kind of fatigue is simply rest.

However, prolonged fatigue (fatigue lasting more than 1 month) or chronic fatigue (fatigue lasting more than 6 months) could be a sign of medical or psychiatric illness. The most common conditions causing prolonged/chronic fatigue are:

· Anemia

· Alcohol abuse

· Caffeine overdose and withdrawal

· Depression and anxiety

· Malnutrition or dehydration

· Endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism

· Heart disease

· Sleep apnea (episodes when you stop breathing while asleep)

· Irritable Bowel Syndrome (constipation or diarrhea)

· Painful conditions, such as muscle pains and arthritis

· Side effect of some antibiotics, blood-pressure medications, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy

·  Poor sleep

Beating fatigue to the ground

If you have prolonged or chronic fatigue, the first step is to visit your doctor, who can then screen you for disease conditions that may be causing or aggravating your downtrodden feeling. Two of the three will be due to problems with the muscles and joints, such as arthritis and muscle pains. Two out of 10 would be suffering from psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety. For these people, consulting a psychiatrist or psychologist would be helpful.For the remaining 50 percent though, no specific cause may be found. For them, we offer these fatigue fighters:

Water

Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue. The recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water is a minimum recommendation. When you feel fatigued, drink more. Some people drink up to 16 glasses per day!

Sleep

Our mind and body will do well to have 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Fatigued or not, good-quality sleep can alleviate a multitude of ails of your mind and body. But do not overdo sleep.

Coffee moderation

Caffeine can have an almost instant effect of elevating mood and energy. However, it can also disturb your sleep. Caffeine stays in your body for over 8 hours. Thus, to increase the quality of your sleep, avoid drinking caffeine within 8 hours of your bedtime.

Snacks

Grazing is when you eat 5 to 7 small meals a day instead of 3 big meals. This eating plan results in a more stable level of sugar in your blood. This will minimize dips in blood sugar, which leads to feelings of low energy. This technique can also help most people lose weight.

Exercise

You already know the benefits of exercise to your heart and waistline. However, exercise also leads to a release of feel-good hormones in the brain. It also conditions your muscle. Thus, it can fight off both physical and mental fatigue. For best fatigue-fighting results, spreading your exercises throughout the day is best. Walk a few rounds around the office.

Outdoor activity

The great outdoors offer you three fatigue fighters: wide space, fresh air, and sunlight. All these together can give your mind the relaxation and rejuvenation it needs.

Friends and family

Talking to friends and loved ones can have a soothing effect on people, which will help alleviate bad mood. A warning for introverts: while this will work for you too, keep in mind that you also need your alone time to recuperate and recharge.

Pop that pill

The best source of nutrition is still--and will always be--food. But let’s admit it: not everyone has the luxury to prepare every meal complete in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, chromium, manganese, selenium, copper, protein, and vitamin A and B complex.

Fight fatigue with these eight in your arsenal, and look forward to ending your deadbeat days!

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