10 medical reasons for feeling tired
Any serious illness, especially painful ones, can make you tired. But some quite minor illnesses can also leave you feeling washed out.
Here are 10 health conditions that are known to cause fatigue.
1. Coeliac disease
This is a type of food intolerance, where your body reacts badly when you eat gluten – a substance found in bread, cakes and cereals.
One in 100 people in the UK are affected, but research suggests that up to 90% of them don’t know they have the condition, according
to patient group Coeliac UK. Other symptoms of coeliac disease, apart from tiredness, are diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss. Your GP
can check if you have coeliac disease through a blood test.
One of the most common medical reasons for feeling constantly run down is iron deficiency anaemia. It affects around one in 20 men and
post-menopausal women, but may be even more common in women who are still having periods.
Typically, you’ll feel you can’t be bothered to do anything, your muscles will feel heavy and you’ll get tired very quickly. Women with heavy
periods and pregnant women are especially prone to anaemia.
3. Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME) is a severe and disabling tiredness that goes on for at least six
months. There are usually other symptoms, such as a sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headache.
4. Sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a condition where your throat narrows or closes during sleep and repeatedly interrupts your breathing. This results in bad
snoring and a drop in your blood's oxygen levels. The difficulty in breathing means that you wake up often in the night, and feel exhausted
the next day.
It’s most common in overweight, middle-aged men. Drinking alcohol and smoking makes it worse.
5. Underactive thyroid
An underactive thyroid gland means that you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired. You’re also
likely to put on weight and have aching muscles. It’s most common in women, and it happens more often as you get older.
Your GP can diagnose an underactive thyroid by taking a blood test.
One of the main symptoms of diabetes, a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood, is feeling very tired. The other key symptoms
are feeling very thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and weight loss. Your GP can diagnose diabetes with a blood test.
7. Glandular fever
Glandular fever is a common viral infection that causes fatigue, along with fever, sore throat and swollen glands. Most cases happen in teenagers
and young adults. Symptoms usually clear up within four to six weeks, but the fatigue can linger for several more months.
As well as making you feel very sad, depression can also make you feel drained of energy. It can stop you falling asleep or cause you to wake
up early in the morning, which makes you feel more tired during the day.
9. Restless legs
This is when you get uncomfortable sensations in your legs, which keep you awake at night. You might have an overwhelming urge to keep
moving your legs, a deep ache in your legs, or your legs might jerk spontaneously through the night. Whatever your symptoms, your sleep
will be disrupted and of poor quality, so you’ll feel very tired throughout the day.
Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, some people have constant, uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, which are so strong
they affect their daily life. Doctors call this generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). It affects around around one in 20 people in the UK. As well as
feeling worried and irritable, people with GAD often feel tired.