Is it Tiredness, Fatigue Or Exhaustion?

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When you are feeling run down and can't keep up, you may describe your symptoms as being tired, exhausted or fatigued. Although we commonly use these as interchangeable words to describe what we are feeling, in medical terms they mean very different things. Understanding the symptoms of each can help us better explain how we feel and ultimately lead us to find a solution for the problem.

There are different types of being tired. The type of fatigue that is felt by a cancer patient for example is not the same type of fatigue that we feel at the end of a very long day.

Tiredness differers from fatigue because although you may not feel like it, your body still has some energy left to tap in to. The symptoms of tiredness include a feeling of heaviness and weakness in muscles, forgetfulness and impatience. Tiredness is common, especially if you have run yourself weary and haven't taken time to relax. Most of the time, all it takes is rest for us to recover from a bout of tiredness.

Fatigue is a different animal. A person who is suffering from fatigue will have difficulty concentrating, a decrease in physical ability and stamina, difficulty sleeping, and may turn away from social activities that they once enjoyed. Fatigue, unlike tiredness, is not a transient state that can be cleared up with a nap or rest.

Further up the scale is exhaustion. Exhaustion is characterized by confusion, delirium, numbness, difficulty staying awake and difficulty falling asleep as well as complete withdrawal from others. Exhaustion is a serious situation that points to a deeper problem than simple tiredness. Anyone who is experiencing this degree of a problem needs to consult with their doctor promptly.

Once you understand where on the scale your symptoms are, you can choose an appropriate course of action to start feeling better. Tiredness responds to rest and regular exercise can also help prevent future episodes. For the person with fatigue, you need to determine if there is an underlying cause for your condition or it it is a lifestyle issue that needs to be addressed. Fatigue is not always a serious condition, but it can lead to or indicate other health problems if it continues too long. Exhaustion may require medical intervention and you should see your doctor if your symptoms are that extreme.

Most often when we are worn out and run down, we are experiencing tiredness. Fortunately, we can take steps to correct the problem before it becomes a burden or a cycle of frequent tiredness. Typically, there are sleep issues, nutritional problems, or other lifestyle issues such as long working hours, stress, shift work or similar at play when a person experiences frequent tiredness. Determining the cause of your tiredness and taking steps to correct it will have you feeling energetic and healthy once again.
Stop being tired once and for all!
Posted 16 Nov 2008

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