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Recognizing the Signs of Fatigue

Blog written by Kylie Marler

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Have you ever “slept in” on the weekends, thinking that the extra hour or two of sleep you got would make up for the exhaustion you felt all week long? It’s no secret that life can be pretty exhausting – even when you “feel fine.” But fatigue can affect anyone, and it’s more common than you’d think.


First – How Common is Fatigue?

This article published by Safety and Health Magazine (a magazine from the National Safety Council) discusses a study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the National Sleep Foundation. The study found that, on average, adults in the U.S. reported feeling tired at least three days a week. The article states, “Only 16% of respondents reported not feeling sleepy at all during a typical week.”

On top of that, the article writes that the study found these additional responses:

    • 58% of respondents cited that fatigue affected their mood
    • 52% of respondents cited that fatigue affected their willingness to go out in the evening
    • 48% of respondents cited that fatigue affected their ability to focus
    • 47% of respondents cited that fatigue affected their exercise
    • 46% of respondents cited that fatigue affected their productivity
    • 62% of respondents reported their coping strategy for fatigue is to “shake it off and keep going”
    • 35% of respondents reported their coping strategy for fatigue is to get fresh air
    • 33% of respondents reported their coping strategy for fatigue is to drink coffee
    • 31% of respondents reported their coping strategy for fatigue is to take a nap


So What Are the Signs?

Medical News Today, a web-based outlet for medical information and news, has this article about fatigue on their website. In the article, Medical News Today lists common signs and symptoms of fatigue, including, “the main symptom of fatigue is exhaustion with physical or mental activity.” The article continues, saying, “It might also be hard for [someone experiencing fatigue] to carry out their daily activities, including work, household chores, and caring for others.”

Next, the article lists other common signs of fatigue: aching or sore muscles, apathy and a lack of motivation, daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating or learning new tasks, gastrointestinal problems, headache, irritability or moodiness, slowed response time, and vision problems (such as blurriness).


More Signs of Fatigue

This page on the Cleveland Clinic’s website also talks about signs of fatigue. The page starts off with, “Fatigue makes it hard to get up in the morning, go to work, do your usual activities and make it through your day.” Continuing on, the page describes other symptoms that often occur alongside fatigue, including depression and lack of desire to do activities once enjoyed, trouble concentrating or focusing, very low energy and motivation, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability, and muscle weakness and pain.

In addition to symptoms that commonly occur alongside fatigue, Cleveland Clinic’s page lists other signs of fatigue: tired eyes, tired legs, whole-body tiredness, stiff shoulders, malaise (discomfort/uneasiness), boredom, sleepiness, and impatience.


A Major Sign: Persistent Exhaustion

Mayo Clinic has this page on their website that also has information about fatigue. Mayo Clinic’s page says fatigue is, “a nearly constant state of weariness that develops over time and reduces your energy, motivation and concentration. Fatigue at this level impacts your emotional and psychological well-being, too.”

Medical News Today, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and so many others all state that a major sign of fatigue is unrelenting and persistent exhaustion. WebMD also says this in their article about fatigue. The article says, “Fatigue is a lingering tiredness that is constant and limiting. With fatigue, you have unexplained, persistent, and relapsing exhaustion.”


Another Major Sign: Aching & Soreness

Medical News Today’s article lists aching or sore muscles as a sign of fatigue, adding that a person experiencing fatigue, “may find it physically hard to do the things they usually do, such as climbing the stairs.” The article goes on to include muscle weakness as a symptom of fatigue, stating that experiencing joint or muscle pain, “can lead to or exacerbate fatigue.”

Cleveland Clinic’s page also lists muscle weakness and pain as a symptom that often occurs with fatigue, as well as listing whole-body tiredness as a sign of fatigue. In addition to Cleveland Clinic‘s page, this article by Better Health Channel (a website maintained by The Department of Health of the State Government of Victoria, Australia) lists sore or aching muscles and muscle weakness as symptoms of fatigue.


Major Signs: Low Motivation & Low Concentration

Medical News Today’s article lists lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating as symptoms of fatigue. The article writes that with fatigue, “a person may find it harder to concentrate on things and stay focused.”

On top of that, Cleveland Clinic’s page says boredom and lack of motivation are signs of fatigue as well as trouble concentrating or focusing, very low energy and motivation, and lack of desire to do activities that were once enjoyed. Mayo Clinic’s page mentions this as well, saying fatigue, “reduces your energy, motivation and concentration.”

Lastly, Better Health Channel’s article lists poor concentration, reduced ability to focus, and low motivation as symptoms of fatigue, as well as including impaired decision-making and judgement, impaired hand-eye coordination, and short-term memory problems as signs of fatigue.


Conclusion

Fatigue is not always obvious (like seasonal allergies or the flu), so it’s important to listen to your body. While some signs of fatigue are more common than others, everyone experiences fatigue differently. If you are struggling with fatigue, consult your health care provider.


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References


Brazier, Y. (2020, May 27). Fatigue: Why am I so tired, and what can I do about it? Medical and Health Information; Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248002#symptoms


Extreme Fatigue and Exhaustion: 10 Possible Causes. (8 C.E.). WebMD; WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/how-tired-is-too-tired


Fatigue. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved June 17, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21206-fatigue


Fatigue – Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Better Health Channel – Better Health Channel. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/fatigue#symptoms-of-fatigue


Fatigue – Mayo Clinic. (2020, December 2). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/fatigue/basics/definition/sym-20050894


Fatigue: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). MedlinePlus – Health Information from the National Library of Medicine. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003088.htm


Survey finds average U.S. adult feels tired at least three days a week | 2020-03-19 | Safety+Health. (2020, March 19). Safety: Safety+Health Magazine; Safety+Health. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/19596-survey-finds-average-us-adult-feels-tired-at-least-three-days-a-week

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