Modernization has led to busier lives, poor lifestyle choices and chronic diseases. This has led us to feel fatigued most of the time. However, most of us confuse fatigue with weakness, although these terms are not synonymous to each other. Weakness is a condition wherein there is a lack of physical strength when an extra effort is required to move limbs and other parts of the body. On the other hand, fatigue is associated with feelings of exhaustion or tiredness even if the body is still able to move. With fatigue there is a lack of strength or energy, which may stem from stress, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, boredom, depression, anxiety, overwork and other medical conditions. Fatigue is a common symptom of colds, flu and infections. Emotions can also cause a feeling of fatigue even if there is no physical work actually done. Even medicines, both prescription and non-prescription, can give rise to feelings of fatigue as a side effect.
Fatigue is usually not a cause of worry unless it is accompanied by other constitutional signs and symptoms such as difficulty of breathing, bleeding, weight loss, weight gain and other signs of serious illness. If you feel fatigue for more than two weeks, you should visit a doctor to find out its underlying causes. Fatigue may indicate more serious medical problems such as anemia or problems in oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, heart diseases such as heart failure and coronary artery disease because they limit the amount of oxygen in the blood that can be used up by the body, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or thyroid problems, kidney disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a medical condition wherein fatigue becomes persistent for a long period of time with unknown exact cause. Other medical problems that may bring about fatigue are depression and other mental problems.
Fatigue can be managed at home with rest at home, especially when you are ill with colds or flu. These medical ailments can usually be treated by rest and sleep. Be careful in taking certain cold and allergy medications as well as sedatiBe careful in taking certain cold and allergy medications as well as sedatives because they can cause fatigue. After illness, you can resume your daily activities gradually to let fatigue not set in. If fatigue is not caused by medical problems, you should listen to the needs of your body and alternate physical activity which rest. Do not attempt to increase intensity of physical activity within a short period of time, as this may give rise to fatigue.
You should avoid too much alcohol and substances such as caffeine and nicotine because they can give rise to fatigue. Watching too much television and being sedentary may also cause fatigue to set in, so that to eliminate fatigue and boredom you can try new activities that encourage physical activity.
Sleep problems may also give rise to fatigue. You should aim to get a good night's sleep for 6 to 8 hours at night. Avoid eating just before bedtime and make sure that your bedroom is conducive for sleeping and is free from extra noise and light. Avoid watching TV and other work during bedtime. Also, get plenty of exercise during the day but not before bedtime. Avoid stress, eat a balanced diet and deal with emotional problems appropriately in a mature manner.
Blue Light and Fatigue
A recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has shown that exposure to short wavelength or blue light during the day can improve alertness and performance and can eliminate feelings of fatigue. The researchers compared the effects of blue light with exposure to an equal amount of green light on alertness and performance in 16 study participants for 6.5 hours over a day. The participants were then rated as to their reactions. The ones exposed to blue light were rated as less sleepy, have quicker reaction times and have increased attention span during performance tests. Brain activity also indicated a more alert state.
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