Why am I tired all the time?

Posted on 1 June 2018

If youve felt exhausted for longer than six months and your doctor has ruled out any other causes you might be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.

Illness, poor diet, sinus problems, anaemia, hayfever, daily stresses, allergies, depression, heart disease, an underactive thyroid and overwork can all contribute to making you feel depleted. However, extreme exhaustion that doesn’t improve after taking a proper rest might mean you’re suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome after all other possible medical conditions are excluded.

It’s a debilitating condition – and it has no known cause. Although there is no cure, people with chronic fatigue syndrome usually experience the most severe symptoms in the first two years of the illness. A small number of people will fully recover while most simply experience a gradual improvement.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a baffling illness that’s difficult to diagnose because there is no specific scan or blood test to detect it. As Dr Owen Wiese, a GP at Intercare Tygervalley says, chronic fatigue syndrome should only be considered once all other medical conditions are excluded. Some common medical reasons for chronic fatigue include low iron levels, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, as well as thyroid problems and/or hormone imbalances.

Your GP may need to order a series of tests over the span of a few consultations to rule out certain medical conditions.

How do I know if I’ve got it?

Your doctor might diagnose you with chronic fatigue syndrome if your constant tiredness interferes significantly with your ability to work, study, socialise and exercise for longer than six months, and is accompanied by:

  • Loss of concentration or short-term memory loss
  • A sore throat that doesn’t get better or symptoms not explained by medical examination
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in your neck or armpits that are not related to an illness
  • Muscle and joint pain that have no clear medical cause
  • Headaches that are different from any you have experienced before
  • Feeling disproportionately sick the day after exercising or exerting yourself
  • Not feeling well- rested after a good night’s sleep

And is there any treatment available?

Although chronic fatigue syndrome cannot be cured, your doctor may prescribe a combination of the following therapies.

  • Slowing down, cutting back on less-important activities and avoiding physical and psychological stress.
  • A slow but gradual increase in aerobic exercise.
  • Aspirin, Tylenol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat your headaches, muscle pain and joint pain (short-term use)
  • Antidepressant medication may be prescribed for certain patients as there is a strong link between constant fatigue and certain mood disorders


Published in Healthy Life

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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