Sunday, December 17

Mind Your Health: Tired Most of The Time? Could be a Ticking Time Bomb

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This misnomer is in part attributable to its commonality and vagueness in description. The danger of such generalizations lies in failing to promptly identify and subsequently manage common but life threatening medical conditions.

A medical condition?

Lethargy is a medical term that refers to tired (Like)-ness. This symptom is ostensibly easily dismissed as simple fatigue or even laziness in some instances.

This misnomer is in part attributable to its commonality and vagueness in description.

The danger of such generalizations lies in failing to promptly identify and subsequently manage common but life threatening medical conditions.

Patients are their own best doctors

First, it is worth noting that this article aims at informing rather than alarming, this is essentially because the role of the Individual in managing their own health is often ignored. The truth as always, never gets the attention it deserves leading to undesirable situations.

A wise man once said “Patients are their own best doctors. This is so, as the are the ones best placed to recognised any changes to their well-being, an important initial step in management of disease.

The doctor’s role if only is to employ their expertise in helping the patient bring out and understand their condition.

It is In revelling in such wisdom that I jotted this piece intending to foster this collaborative approach to health-care.

The problem in a case of easy fatiguability can range from simple anaemic condition to more complicated cases of heart failure that arose from complicated anaemia or even less routine cases of a psychogenic origin. The following are some of the commoner health conditions associated with the feeling of tiredness most of the time.

Simple sleep

Yes, its a demanding world. And we understand that you are a focused, ambitious, self driven and hard working individual. But please do get your hours safely under the belt at night. 6-8hrs is what is recommended in most texts.

Besides a rested mind is more efficient, less prone to accidents and its even claimed that the slumber holds some magical beauty powers. Lack of sleep may lead you towards the other common but more dangerous condition to be discussed next.

Psychiatric Origin

One of the warning signs of depression found in most patients is complaints of feelings of unusual tiredness especially in the mornings. The client may additionally report disturbed sleep patterns whose hallmark is insomnia or the lack of sleep. Additionally, activities that were routine such as going to work are now considered to be herculean tasks.

Care though should be taken as it is easy to misdiagnose innocuous conditions such as fatigue as depression. This mistake is common and leads to inadvertent use and abuse of readily available drugs such as Valium.

However, depression is one of the commonest psychiatric conditions in today’s industrialised and globalised world. It should therefore be identified and managed accordingly by a qualified health professional as it is one of the leading causes of suicide not only in teenagers but also in the adult population.

Haematological system  

The haematological system concerns itself with blood components and blood forming organs such as the bone marrow. Red blood cells, biconcave shaped cells that form part of the cellular components of blood, are important in the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from cells.

When the mass of these red blood cells or the heme pigment which it carries (haemoglobin) reduces to a point below the lower cut off for a particular age, sex and race; the individual is said to be suffering from anaemia. One of the cardinal symptoms of anemia is easy fatiguability that may be accompanied by awareness of the heartbeat (palpitations) or frequent headaches.


The aetiology of this condition varies across age groups as evident in increased prevalence among women of the reproductive health group as a direct consequence of blood loss through cyclical menstrual bleeds.

This condition which can be reliably picked by examination of mucous membranes for signs of discolouration (palor which is paleness), should be thoroughly be investigated via a detailed history querying various aspects ranging from nutrition to lifestyle habits such as smoking.

This is followed by a thorough physical examination so as to elicit the physical signs of disease and concluded by performing a battery of both radiological and  laboratory tests such as haematological, microbial, endocrine and tumor maker detection as the causes of anaemia are varied.

Anaemia is common finding in most chronic diseases like various forms of malignant cancers , HIV infection and tuberculosis. Quite often, anaemia acts as a surrogate marker for underlying serious pathological processes.

Cardiovascular system

Refers to the conduits of blood namely the heart and blood vessels. According to the   widely used New York Heart Association (NYHA) criteria for grading heart failure, varying degrees of fatiguability on doing normal activities are indicative of the degree of failure of the heart’s pumping mechanism.

Severe forms of heart failure are indicated by breathlessness (dysponea) at rest while milder forms present with dysponea on activity such as walking.

The cardiovascular system is of particular interest in investigating fatiguability in diabetic, hypertensive or in individuals who are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease including peripheral artery disease, a condition which is common in young male chronic smokers (Berger’s disease) and chronic suffers of metabolic diseases like diabetes.

nipping it at the bud

The causes of chronic fatiguability are varied as it is a common presenting symptom in the ERs and doctor’s rooms. The responsibility lies with the patient in seeking care promptly as this easily ignorable symptom could be the only audible tick of an underlying hidden health “bomb”.

It is also prudent to seek the opinion of a trained health professional as an innocuous situation as it is often the case can be stopped in its bud preventing the development of more serious conditions. Remember self medication is dangerous.


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