Having Constant Fatigue

What Causes Constant Fatigue?

Constant fatigue can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose constant fatigue, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "constant fatigue" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Malaria
  • Copper Toxicity
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • General Toxicity
  • Caffeine Intoxication
  • Short Bowel Syndrome

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
edema of the ankles/lower legs
very frequent stools
occasional unexplained vomiting
meal-related bloating
severe eyelid twitch
very recent visit(s) to the tropics
recent onset diarrhea
dark/flushed facial coloring
vomiting for 1-3 months
blood transfusions
occasional 'chills'
having had a small bowel resection
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of constant fatigue:
Cause Probability Status
Glomerulonephritis 91% Confirm
Malaria 21% Unlikely
Caffeine Intoxication 13% Unlikely
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 4% Ruled out
Copper Toxicity 3% Ruled out
General Toxicity 3% Ruled out
Short Bowel Syndrome 3% Ruled out
Ulcerative Colitis 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate being fatigued, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you have fatigue that is present most of the time, not improved by ordinary sleep? In other words, do you wake up tired or not have the energy to do what you want to, even after a good night of sleep?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ It is a slight problem but I function quite well
→ Moderate problem - I can not function sometimes
→ Major problem - I am unable to perform my duties
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either not having constant fatigue or constant fatigue, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Anemia

Fatigue is the most common symptom of Anemia.

Calming / Stretching Exercise Need

A British study of 71 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 76 found that a daily 30 minute program of yogic stretching and breathing exercises had an invigorating effect on mental and physical energy and mood.

Depression

Depression robs the brain of some of the chemicals needed for optimal function.  Serotonin, for example, helps regulate the internal body clock.  Depression can lead to decreased energy levels and daytime tiredness, as well as difficulty falling asleep at night.  It can also cause us to wake up earlier in the morning than we had planned.

Effects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet

One study found that all those subjected to carb-free diet complained of fatigue after just two days.  "This complaint was characterized by a feeling of physical lack of energy... The subjects all felt that they did not have sufficient energy to continue normal activity after the third day.  This fatigue promptly disappeared after the addition of carbohydrate to the diet." [Arch Internal med 112(1963): p.333]

Environmental Illness / MCS

Daytime grogginess is a possible symptom of environmental illness.

Fluoride Toxicity

Unusual and excessive sleepiness/fatigue is a symptom.

HIV/AIDS

Fatigue can be one of the most debilitating symptoms experienced by people with HIV disease, as well as one of the most under-reported and under-recognized aspects.  The rate of fatigue increases as the disease progresses and women are more likely to experience fatigue than men.  HIV-positive men with CD4 cell counts below 500 cells/ml experienced more fatigue than men with CD4 cell counts above 500.  However, studies so far have not found a consistent correlation between viral load and fatigue.  The fatigue may be due to anemia, depression, the HIV virus, secondary infections, hormone deficiency (testosterone, adrenal exhaustion), malnutrition, poor sleep quality or quantity, inactivity, or drug side-effects.

Nephrotic Syndrome

As nephrotic syndrome progresses, the patient feels increasingly weak and fatigued.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

In individuals with sleep apnea, the brain detects that they are not getting rid of enough CO₂, so it wakes up briefly in an alarmed state.  This happens repeatedly during the night, without the subject noticing, and results in an inability to achieve or maintain the deep stages of sleep.  This can lead to unexplained daytime sleepiness and nonrestorative sleep.  Patients often complain of waking up feeling like they had not slept at all, and often feel worse after taking a nap than before napping.

Phosphorus Deficiency

Phosphorus helps your body metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates into energy.  A lack of phosphorus can lead to lower energy levels and fatigue.

Glomerulonephritis

Many patients with even mild IgAN report extreme fatigue.

... and also rule out issues such as:
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