Chances are, hidden behind the facade of “I’m well, thanks,” is a grown-ass woman desperately wanting to scream "I JUST NEED A NAP." I know this to be true because, like you, I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of tiredness.
But when did this become OK?
Recently, my friend and fellow YMCer Catherine mentioned that both she and a girlfriend had visited their primary care physicians with this exact complaint only to be met with “You’re a Mum and you’re not getting any younger - what did you expect?”
Well, I, for one, would expect more from my physician.
Of course tiredness is a symptom of the busy lives we’re all leading but it can also be signs of health issues that should never, ever be ignored.
Here are 10 reasons why you could be feeling so tired that have nothing to do with staying up too late watching Netflix.
Extreme tiredness is a very common sign of early pregnancy. This tiredness and lethargy generally lasts for the first trimester (first 12 weeks) and usually improves. (If you are pregnant, don’t get used to lots of energy - you’ll likely be tired again in the later stages of pregnancy.)
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (say that five times fast) is a severe and disabling tiredness that goes on for at least six months. Other symptoms often include a sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headache. If you’ve felt like you’ve had a bad cold for a long time, get thee to your physician.
Food intolerances and allergies can do some weird things to your body. For example, if you have Celiac disease, your body reacts abnormally when you’ve consumed gluten. If you’ve never been tested for food intolerances or allergies and you’re feeling incredibly tired, it may be time to ask for a screening.
No matter how hard I try with my regular diet, I almost never get enough iron, protein, or vitamin D - in fact, many of us are unable to get enough of the nutrients we need to feel our best from food alone. Ask your physician for a full blood screening to test for nutrient levels, and perhaps a recommendation for a great multivitamin.
Fact: Anemia is one of the most common reasons we feel rundown and affects about one in 20 adults, but is most common in women who are still menstruating.
If you’re feeling really tired, have achy muscles and have put on a bit of weight despite no change to your exercise and diet, it’s possible you’ve got too little thyroxine in your system. Your GP can diagnose an underactive thyroid by ordering a single blood test.
Diabetes is a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood, and one of its main symptoms is (you guessed it!) feeling quite tired. Other key symptoms include feeling thirsty all the time and peeing a lot. Diabetes is also diagnosed through a simple blood test.
Our mental health has an enormous effect on our physical well-being. In addition to feelings of anxiousness, numbness, or sadness, many people experiencing depression or anxiety feel tired - but often have a hard time falling or staying asleep. Speak with your physician about therapy options may work for you including counselling, exercise, and the use of pharmaceuticals.
Any of large number of cancers may cause symptoms like extreme tiredness, weightless, or even fever. The jury seems to be out on the exact why, but this could be caused by cancer cells using up too much of the body’s energy supply, or they could release substances that change the way your body makes energy from food.
Common conditions such as restless legs syndrome (uncomfortable sensations in your legs, which keep you awake) or sleep apnea (a condition where your throat narrows or closes during sleep, disrupting your breathing) can cause extreme tiredness. If your partner tells you you’re snoring loudly or moving your legs a lot at night, mention it to your GP - it may just help you find answers.
Between work, life, home, kids, your relationship with your partner and trying to have some semblance of a social life, most of us really are spread a little bit too thin. Feeling tired all the time is not OK, so it may be time to ask yourself what you can put on the back burner while you take care of you.
At the end of the day, don't simply accept that tired is the new normal and it's time you get used to it: ask your physician for more and listen to your body.