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A Doctor's View on Why Am I So Tired? The Many Causes of Fatigue

Read the Comment by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

Fatigue is a common complaint by many people. Busy lifestyles, children, work, and the day to day stresses can cause a person to become consistently tired. Other things that may cause fatigue are:

  • pregnancy,
  • sleep problems,
  • medication,
  • mental health issues,
  • diabetes,
  • thyroid disorders,
  • the flu,
  • mono,
  • COPD,
  • heart failure, and
  • asthma.
Read the entire Doctor's View

What causes fatigue?

There are numerous potential causes of fatigue as a major complaint. They range from those that cause poor blood supply to the body's tissues to illnesses that affect metabolism, from infections and inflammatory diseases to those that cause sleep disturbances. Fatigue is a common side effect of many medications. While numerous patients with psychological conditions often complain of fatigue (physical and mental), there are also a group of patients where the cause of fatigue is never diagnosed.

The following table summarizes some common causes of fatigue but is not meant to be comprehensive:

Common Causes of Fatigue
Anemia; Hypothyroidism; Diabetes; Electrolyte abnormalities; Kidney disease; Liver disease; Cushing's disease
Infectious Infectious mononucleosis; Hepatitis; Tuberculosis; Cytomegalovirus; HIV infection; Influenza (flu); Malaria and many other infectious diseases
Cardiac (heart) and Pulmonary (lungs) Congestive heart failure; Coronary artery disease; Valvular heart disease; COPD; Asthma; Arrythmias; Pneumonia
Medications Antidepressants; Anti-anxiety medications; Sedative medications; Medication and drug withdrawal; Antihistamines; Steroids; Some blood pressure medications; Some antidepressants
Psychiatric (Mental Health) Depression; Anxiety; Drug abuse; Alcohol abuse; Eating disorders (for example; bulimia; anorexia); Grief and bereavement
Sleep Problems Sleep apnea; Reflux esophagitis; Insomnia; Narcolepsy; Work shift work or work shift changes; Pregnancy; Extra night hours at "work"
Vitamin Deficiencies Vitamin B12 deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency, folic acid deficiency, iron deficiency
Other Cancer; Rheumatology illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus; Fibromyalgia; Chronic fatigue syndrome; Normal muscle exertion; Obesity; Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Return to Fatigue

See what others are saying

Comment from: Elli, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

Glandular Fever was the cause of my fatigue � I went to the doctor with loss of appetite, extreme fatigue and headaches.

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Comment from: Carol T., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 19

I was diagnosed with MS after being diagnosed with pernicious anemia. The way I describe my fatigue is that I am too tired to breathe. The pernicious anemia is in check but I still have the multiple sclerosis.

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Comment from: Heather, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 05

I went to my doctor for unexplained weight gain and she did blood and urine tests. It turns out that my level of creatinine (from my kidneys should be .9 at highest) was 2.9 and I had low blood sugar. I am still going through tests but my blood pressure was very high as well as my triglycerides. I was put on two blood pressure medicines. I'm sleeping 16-20 hours a day.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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