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Fatigue can have many causes, and we are working to identify a potential medical reason. Fatigue can sometimes by a symptom of an underlying medical condition. We have ordered some tests to help identify any potential causes.
Here are some general recommendations to help manage fatigue:
Lifestyle Changes: Regular physical activity and a balanced diet can have a significant impact on your energy levels. Try to incorporate moderate exercise into your routine and consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Sleep Hygiene: Ensure that you are getting adequate, quality sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and make your sleep environment comfortable and free of distractions.
Stress Management: Chronic stress can lead to fatigue. Consider incorporating relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation into your routine.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine: Excessive alcohol or caffeine can interfere with your sleep and energy levels.
Persistent sleep difficulties may be a sign of a sleep disorder that requires specialized treatment.
Good sleep hygiene is vital for overall health and wellbeing. Here are some recommendations to help improve your sleep habits:
Establish a Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Create a Bedtime Routine: Establishing a pre-sleep routine can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This could include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, listening to soft music, or doing some relaxation exercises.
Make Your Sleep Environment Comfortable: Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Consider using earplugs, an eye mask, or a white noise machine if necessary. Ensure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed: The light emitted by phones, tablets, computers, and TVs can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Try to turn off these devices at least an hour before bedtime.
Be Mindful of Eating and Drinking: Avoid going to bed either hungry or overly full. Limit how much you drink before bed to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.
Limit Napping: Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to about 20 to 30 minutes and make it during the mid-afternoon.
Physical Activity: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. However, don't exercise too close to bedtime as it might interfere with your sleep.
Avoid Stimulants: Avoid beverages containing caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. These substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep.
Fatigue is often multifactorial, so always consider a broad differential including endocrine disorders (such as hypothyroidism), hematologic conditions (like anemia), sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea), psychiatric illnesses (depression, anxiety), chronic infections, malignancies, and medication side effects. Your history and physical exam should guide your workup; be sure to ask about duration, pattern, and associated symptoms of fatigue, as well as sleep hygiene. Target your laboratory investigations based on your history. Initial tests often include CBC, CMP, TSH, and iron studies. Empower patients by discussing lifestyle modifications that can help with fatigue (adequate sleep, regular physical activity, balanced diet, and good hydration). Finally, always be alert to "red flag" symptoms such as significant weight loss, severe pain, or shortness of breath, which may indicate a more serious underlying condition requiring immediate attention.