Doctors have a saying for it – ‘TATT’. This stands for ‘tired all the time’ and is one of the most common reasons why patients go to see their doctor. There are a great many causes of fatigue but there are some you might not have considered…

1. Not eating enough protein

Protein is an essential part of our diet and the major building block of muscle. Failure to get enough protein in your diet affects the smooth running of the body, and can leave you feeling weak and more prone to infection. Eating a balanced diet is usually sufficient to get your daily protein requirement, but people who eat little or no animal protein and the elderly are more at risk of protein deficiency. Dietary sources include lean meats, pulses, eggs, etc.

 

2. Having an underactive thyroid gland

A low thyroid hormone level (hypothyroidism, or myxoedema) may cause weight gain, tiredness and swollen ankles, and typically features a hoarse voice and skin or hair coarseness among other symptoms. Fortunately, it is easily treatable using thyroid hormone supplements while regular blood tests (taken every 6 to 12 months) ensure levels remain normal. Myxoedema becomes more common with age, so if you are experiencing symptoms, suggest it as a possibility and discuss with your GP.

 

3. Not having enough potassium in your diet

Low levels of potassium can cause tiredness and fatigue, and a diet rich in potassium  where you eat a variety of foods rich in potassium – also means you usually get an assortment of vitamins and minerals that will give you energy rather than leaving you feeling worn down. Examples of potassium-rich foods include beans, avocado, broccoli, bananas, salmon and sardines.

 

4. You’re under too much stress

I see people with psychological tiredness far more commonly than tiredness caused by a physical problem. One common reason is anxiety, which can cause insomnia and fatigue but the everyday stress and strains of life can also be exhausting. Mental health problems such as depression or anxiety can also make you feel more tired.

 

5. You’re getting too much sleep!

Although this might sound odd, getting more sleep than you need may leave you tired! Changes to our normal sleep patterns can upset the body's rhythms and increase daytime fatigue. The best solution is to figure out how many hours of sleep are right for you, stick with it and try to avoid daytime naps even on weekends and holidays.

The best solution is to figure out how many hours of sleep are right for you, stick with it and try to avoid daytime naps.

Dr Roger Henderson
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