How To Tell If You’re ‘Just Tired’ Or Suffer From ‘Fatigue.’

Is It Tiredness Or Fatigue
Photo credit: Sleepy by Todd Kulesza.

A common symptom of many chronic illnesses is fatigue. Although this symptom doesn’t necessarily cause pain, it can still be crippling. I’ll be honest though, it annoys me when people misuse the word.

I’ve heard a bunch of people complain about feeling ‘fatigue’ after waking up a little earlier than usual. “I just need a coffee and then I’ll be good” they might say. The things is, for many of us, it isn’t that simple. Coffee won’t fix the level of tiredness we feel. Hell, sleep itself can barely fix it.

So what is fatigue? It’s often described as ‘extreme tiredness’, but what does it feel like? How can you tell the difference between when you’re feeling a bit tired to when you’re actually suffering from something else?

Ask yourself these questions to get a better picture.

Do you feel better after sleep?

Little Girl In Baseball Cap Sleeping
Photo Credit: Sleepy by Charles Porter.

Adults are suggested to get 7-9 hours of sleep every day. Following this will likely improve your mental and physical health. For people with fatigue, sleeping the suggested amount makes little difference. You could wake up and feel just as tired as you did when you went to sleep, if not, worse!

Do you feel weak?

A weak arm
Photo Credit: Weak by Valeria

Fatigue can affect you physically. Where it differs from regular tiredness is how your body feels. If you have trouble physically getting out of bed, walking, getting dressed, doing menial tasks or even sitting upright in a chair, you may be suffering from fatigue.

Are you having trouble thinking?

Having Trouble Thinking
Photo credit: thinking by Jerry Luo.

Fatigue can also affect you mentally. Experiencing such extreme levels of tiredness can make it hard to process thoughts and remember things. As someone who reads a lot, if it takes me a while to read a single sentence, I know it’s time to put down the book and rest.

There are definitely many other signs of fatigue. People will have different experiences based on what is causing the extreme levels of tiredness. I, for example, will have problems breathing and experience really strange dreams (I should probably document them as they happen and publish a post)!

I think it’s also important to note that chronic illness isn’t the only cause of fatigue. It can happen due to a number of different reasons i.e the flu, a poor diet, stress, grief, drug use etc.

Being tired from time to time is normal, fatigue isn’t so it’s important to be aware of the differences. If nothing is improving your decreased energy levels, seek help from a GP to figure out the underlying cause. It’s not all doom and gloom. There are a few suggested ways to battle fatigue which I discuss in another post.