Are you suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome?
An estimated 150,000 people in the UK have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), with women affected more often than men. Causes are many and varied but his condition, though fairly common, is never normal. Chronic fatigue sometimes serves as a warning signal for the body and is well-worth heeding.
The blame for chronic fatigue whether it be in men, women or children, often falls on a drop in the quality of life... Several factors can be responsible:
- Harried lifestyle;
- Excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption;
- Lack of physical exercise;
- Disrupted or insufficient sleep;
- Crash diets;
- Emotional ordeals (bereavement, divorce and so on).
No gender equality when it comes to fatigue
Women are more susceptible to fatigue than men. They wake up in the middle of the night to take care of infant children, drive them to school in the morning right before rushing off to the train station to go to the office for a hard day’s work, after which they buy groceries, tidy up the house, prepare meals and make sure the kids have done their schoolwork for the next day.
Such acute stress on a daily basis, which some women believe goes beyond a normal individual’s ability to withstand, is among the leading causes of chronic fatigue in women. Certain hormonal changes or issues that are specific to women, such as premenstrual tension (PMT), menopause, early pregnancy and, most of all, periods, can compound chronic fatigue syndrome.
It has been found that 30% of women of reproductive age in the UK have iron deficiencies – another common cause of ongoing fatigue. Most of the time, this is due to blood loss during periods and is insufficiently compensated by diet. 5% of women suffer from severe iron deficiency.
Fatigue is more acutely felt on Mondays and Fridays. On Mondays, the main symptoms include gloomy mood and low motivation. On Fridays, fatigue generally translates into reduced attention span, poor memory for recent events and muscular pain.
Recognizing fatigue as an alarm signal
Fatigue is also one of our body’s distress signals and it’s therefore essential that you pay extra attention whenever it arises. Chronic fatigue is a common harbinger of illness and often sets in subsequently to certain ailments.
Following a winter infection, and more particularly after having had a fever, it is not uncommon for someone to feel tired for a week or two. This is also true with common autumnal illnesses such as colds, pharyngitis, otitis, bronchitis and the flu.
Other infectious diseases, such as infectious mononucleosis and viral hepatitis, can cause intense fatigue, which is sometimes the first symptom reported by patients. Hypertension, diabetes, hypothyroidism, renal failure and cancer are diseases that often result in severe fatigue and should be medically evaluated and treated.
Chronic fatigue is often one of the earliest symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In any case, chronic (over two weeks) and/or severe fatigue should always be taken seriously and discussed with a health professional.
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