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Illness-related fatigue: More than just feeling tired

October 21, 2020

About the Author

photo of Jennifer Crystal, MFA

Jennifer Crystal, MFA, Contributor

Jennifer Crystal is a health writer, educator, and patient advocate in Boston. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Cognoscenti, and many other major publications. She runs the Writing to Heal Program at GrubStreet … See Full Bio
View all posts by Jennifer Crystal, MFA


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October 29, 2020

This checklist is so helpful!

Patti Klein
October 27, 2020

I’ve been reading Jennifer Crystal’s work for years and I’m excited to see her reaching a wider audience. We’re all fatigued during this pandemic but you articulate so well the difference between everyday fatigue and illness-related fatigue. Your discussion about both and your questions at the end go far in allaying our fears about Covid related illness or other underlying causes. Thank you, Jennifer, for a most informative and accessible blog.

October 26, 2020

I couldn’t agree more with you. I’ve been fighting chronic fatigue and a slew of other symptoms for over 5 years now and I’m just plain tired of hearing doctors say there’s nothing wrong with me, it’s just menopause and to suck it up. About a month about my suspicions came to a head as now my thyroid is visibly enlarged. I was also quite surprised to learn that the tests they did on my thyroid every year aren’t the right test to even see if I have Hypothyroid or even more so, Hashimoto’s! I’m finally getting the right test done, however, funny but the PCP told me they don’t offer these tests to patients cause insurance won’t pay for them. I didn’t care and asked them to run them anyway. Until the test are done, I can’t be for sure to exactly what extend it is, but I should have listened to what my body’s been telling me for years.

Beth Staropoli
October 27, 2020

Hi Lisa,

Can you tell me what tests you’re referring to? I have been battling this for years and I feel as though the testing they perform is inadequate at best. I don’t care about the insurance either. It’s worth it to get answers and know what’s going on.
Thank you,


October 24, 2020

It’s helpful to have descriptions of each type of fatigue. I wonder about the long term effects of living in the heightened state of emergency. Does the day to day stress of operating in a pandemic world wear down one’s immune response? Does depression contribute to a sense of fatigue?

October 23, 2020

This is a super helpful list of questions to ask yourself if you’re not sure you’re fatigued from illness or from external factors. Also, fatigue is often worn as a badge of honor in our culture: we should stop proudly proclaiming our sleep-deprivation and focus on overall health instead!

Edward O'Malley, PhD
October 23, 2020

What Jennifer is saying is not only correct but provides hope-once the underlying issues are treated, or maybe a better term would be managed, some energy returns and some “normal” life activities may be resumed.

With this kind of unrelenting illness-related fatigue, hope at least offers encouragement to keep looking for solutions, a direction, a way to keep moving forward.

October 23, 2020

I really appreciate your blog post! Well written. This perfectly captures the dilemma I’ve had at times in my life trying to figure out if something is short-term fatigue vs. long-term. I love that you validate people listening to and knowing their own bodies. I got tested after a period of fatigue and my doctor told me everything was fine. But I knew that something wasn’t right. I kept persisting and finally an endocrinologist confirmed my problems with my thyroid. So, I’m glad I listened to my body. My mother, who has had lyme in the past, had a similar challenge. She really had to fight for testing, which eventually confirmed that she did in fact have lyme. Women especially have to often fight to be listened to and believe in the healthcare industry. Thank you for addressing this.

October 21, 2020

What you are saying is correct but this not a temporary issue it’s permanent we need to learn to live with this pandemic

Ruth Saemann
October 26, 2020

You left out one of the most common causes of fatigue, depression. This is one of the most prominent symptom of depression.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

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