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Fatigue: Common Causes of Tiredness in Women


Introduction

Fatigue or extreme tiredness is a prevalent complaint among women, characterised by a persistent feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. While lifestyle factors such as stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep contribute to fatigue, underlying medical conditions and hormonal changes can also play significant roles. This article explores the common medical causes of fatigue in women, including perimenopause, along with signs and tests used to diagnose these issues.



Tired women
Causes of Fatigue in Women

Common Causes of Fatigue


1)Anaemia: One of the most common causes of fatigue in women, especially those of childbearing age, is anaemia. Often caused by heavy menstrual bleeding. This condition occurs when the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to tissues.

  • Symptoms: Pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart palpitations.

  • Tests: Full blood count (FBC), serum ferritin, and iron levels.


2) Thyroid Disorders: Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can lead to fatigue by slowing down the body’s metabolism.


  • Symptoms: Weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, constipation, hair loss and depression.

  • Tests: Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test, Free T4, and Free T3 levels.


3) Perimenopause: The transitional phase before menopause, known as perimenopause, can cause extreme fatigue due to hormonal fluctuations.

  • Symptoms: Irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes, low energy, fatigue and sleep disturbances.

  • Tests: Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, oestradiol levels, testosterone and clinical evaluation of symptoms.


4) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), CFS is characterised by severe, unexplained fatigue that is not improved by rest.

  • Symptoms: Joint pain, muscle pain, unrefreshing sleep, and cognitive difficulties.

  • Tests: Diagnosis is clinical and often made by ruling out other conditions.


5) Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can cause fatigue due to fluctuating blood sugar levels.

  • Symptoms: Increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, and unintentional weight loss.

  • Tests: Fasting blood glucose, HbA1c test, and oral glucose tolerance test.


6) Depression and Anxiety: Mental health conditions can significantly contribute to feelings of fatigue.

  • Symptoms: Persistent sadness, lack of interest in activities, excessive worry, and changes in appetite.

  • Tests: Psychological evaluation


7) Sleep Disorders: Conditions such as sleep apnoea can disrupt sleep, leading to daytime fatigue.

  • Symptoms: Loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, and morning headaches.


8) Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause chronic fatigue due to systemic inflammation.

  • Symptoms: Joint pain, swelling, rashes, and fever.

  • Tests: Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test, rheumatoid factor (RF), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).


9)Nutritional Deficiencies: Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to fatigue.

  • Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms include muscle weakness, bone pain, and increased susceptibility to infections.

  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Symptoms include weakness, numbness, tingling, and memory problems.

  • Tests: Serum vitamin D levels, vitamin B12 levels, and other relevant nutritional panels.

 


See our blood test - Tiredness Panel to assess the causes of fatigue


Conclusion

Fatigue in women can have numerous common causes, ranging from anaemia and thyroid disorders to perimenopause and mental health conditions. Identifying the underlying cause is crucial for effective treatment. A comprehensive approach involving physical examination, blood tests, and psychological evaluations is essential in diagnosing and managing fatigue. Women experiencing persistent fatigue should seek medical advice to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate care.

Fatigue is a very common symptom in the perimenopause




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