All of us have experienced periods of fatigue, depression, lethargy, or downright dreariness from time to time. It is a natural, if unfortunate, part of the human condition. But if you have had to rearrange travel plans several times, or simply feel too beat to even make plans in the first place, you might have a medical condition that is causing your fatigue.
That right there is the bad news. The good news, however, is that the majority of these conditions are treatable and can be diagnosed by your team of doctors. Here, we will go over some of the most likely suspects to help you track down the main culprit causing all the trouble.
If you report constant fatigue to your doctor, it is likely that one of the first things they will want to examine is the condition of your thyroid. The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that releases hormones that control your metabolism. The thyroid itself is influenced by another gland which is located right below your brain and secretes thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
This gland is called the pituitary gland and the hormone it creates, TSH, tells your thyroid how much of its own hormones to release. Because of this, a good first step to take if you want to determine if you are having thyroid issues is to get a TSH blood test. It is a common test that you can even do yourself at home if you do not feel like taking the trip to the doctor’s office.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Unlike thyroid disease, chronic fatigue syndrome is not well understood at all by the medical community. While it is far more difficult to both diagnose and treat than many other maladies, it is a real syndrome that is well-recorded in the literature. The symptoms are exactly what you think they might be, too: chronic fatigue.
The very fact that the symptoms are so vague is part of what makes this such a hard condition to address. You will certainly want to exhaust all other options with your doctor before shrugging your shoulders and deciding there is not much to be done because you have chronic fatigue syndrome.
While many of us travel specifically for the purpose of improving our mental health by, for instance, unwinding from stress, it is still easy to forget just how important mental health is. It is easy to underestimate the degree to which your mental and physical health are interrelated, and if you take one seriously, you should take both seriously.
There is no question that your physical health can affect your mental health. For instance, think of what happens to your mood when you have chronic pain. With that in mind, it should not come as a surprise that one of the symptoms of depression and anxiety is fatigue. It is obvious why depression would make you lethargic, but anxiety ultimately can lead to serious fatigue, as well. When you are anxious, your brain is constantly in fight or flight mode, making your adrenal glands pump out adrenaline all day long.
This ramps up everything your body does to the maximum level and maintains this maximum level for the duration of your anxiety. Understandably, this can cause serious fatigue. If that were not enough, anxiety also tends to make it very difficult to sleep, and these two factors together can often make anxiety even more fatiguing than depression.
Not many people know that fatigue can be a major aspect of certain people’s allergic reactions. If this is the root cause of your fatigue, then it will usually be accompanied by nasal congestion, itchiness, or a headache. To figure out exactly what is causing the allergy, you will need to get a test done by your doctor.
Once you know the cause of the allergies, you have a number of choices you can employ to address them. For instance, you can avoid them, begin immunotherapy (such as allergy shots or under-the-tongue drops), or utilize a combination of both strategies. With any luck, the allergies keeping you from traveling might not be as bad in the place you are adventuring to!
More Frightening Possibilities
If you are not quite motivated to rid yourself of fatigue that has been keeping you from exploring the world, your feelings are valid. However, hopefully learning more about the full range of possible maladies that might be causing your fatigue might be enough to get you off the couch and into the doctor’s office.
Just a sample of some of the more serious ailments that can cause you to feel constantly lethargic includes acute liver failure, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, emphysema, traumatic brain injury, anemia, fibromyalgia, and heart disease. Clearly, you do not want to ignore a persistent tired, run-down feeling. And most importantly, it is a symptom that needs to be checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible.