What is the difference between feeling tired and experiencing symptoms of fatigue? That’s a very good question and it’s important to understand the difference. If you’re just a little tired, you can recover quickly but long bouts with fatigue could signal a problem.
Everyone gets fatigue from time to time. In and of itself, fatigue isn’t a bad thing. It’s the body’s natural way of slowing you down so you can get some rest and feel restored. Everyone experiences this and it can be very healthy.
For example, if you have a really busy week at work and put in overtime, by the time Friday rolls around you feel beat. You get home and just want to rest in front of the TV, sleep late on Saturday, and stay in your pajamas all weekend.
But when Monday rolls around you feel refreshed and you’re able to go back to working hard. Your body needed some time to recharge, but once you give it that rest you can go back to normal activities.
Fatigue becomes a problem when it last a long time and has other symptoms. For example, you also may feel a lack of energy so strong that it gets in the way of getting your daily life tasks done. For example, you may not have the energy to keep your house clean or to go to work.
People who experience chronic fatigue may also have trouble with remembering important tasks and focusing on the job at hand. It can really impede your ability to get things done for yourself and for your family.
When should you worry that fatigue is a bigger problem? Most healthcare experts recommend that you seek attention if you feel fatigue consistently for six months even if you don’t have any other symptoms.
But if you have fatigue for several weeks and it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, headaches, or swollen glands you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider sooner. Fatigue and other symptoms could signal that you have an underlying illness.
When you speak with your healthcare provider you’ll want to make sure and mention all of your symptoms. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep a journal to track your symptoms when you realize that there’s something more going on than feeling a little tired.
The good news is that with intervention, most people will see improvement in their symptoms. You’ll either discover that you have a treatable underlying infection or illness or that you don’t have an underlying cause. Either way, you can begin working on a treatment plan to reduce your symptoms of fatigue and get back to your real life.