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WHY ARE WE ALL SO TIRED?

With one in five GP visits in the UK due to fatigue, Dr Louise Newson takes a look at some of the less obvious reasons we feel so exhausted – and how to reboot your energy levels…

One third of Britons admit to feeling permanently worn out*, and as a GP, extreme tiredness is one of the common symptoms people see me about. When a patient describes how they feel, I’ll often jot down ‘TATT?’ (short for: tired all the time). But as fatigue can be caused by a host of various medical conditions and lifestyle factors, it often takes some detective work to get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

With extreme fatigue it’s always important to rule out a more serious illness such as cancer, so I’ll check for ‘red flag’ symptoms, including blood loss, sudden weight loss, unusual lumps or bumps and any changes in bowel habits. I’ll then ask about a patient’s lifestyle, as lack of exercise, poor diet, high stress levels and not getting enough sleep can all cause low energy. Plus, I’ll run a blood test to check for low iron levels that could indicate anaemia, impaired kidney and liver function, and also to check for high blood sugar to rule out diabetes, vitamin D or thyroid problems. If a patient has never been checked for the digestive disorder coeliac disease, I’ll often order a blood test for this, too – figures (from Coeliac UK) suggest up to one in 100 people have this condition (which can cause fatigue), but only a quarter have been diagnosed.

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About Healthy Magazine

It's almost Christmas! Get prepared with the December/January healthy magazine, featuring wellness bloggers Zanna Van Dijk, Natasha Corrett and Carly Rowena. Find 37 festive recipes – including clean, free-from, healthy and delicious options to please everyone. Plus, two women reveal their life-changing #bestgiftever – what's yours? Keep your mind and body on track this Christmas with the new digital edition of healthy.