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Harvard Health Blog
Illness-related fatigue: More than just feeling tired
- By Jennifer Crystal, MFA, Contributor
About the Author
Jennifer Crystal, MFA, Contributor
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This checklist is so helpful!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
What you are saying is correct but this not a temporary issue it’s permanent we need to learn to live with this pandemic
You left out one of the most common causes of fatigue, depression. This is one of the most prominent symptom of depression.
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Boosting Your Energy
Fatigue is a symptom, not a disease, and it’s experienced differently by different people. Fatigue from stress or lack of sleep usually subsides after a good night’s rest, while other fatigue is more persistent and may be debilitating even after restful sleep. Harvard’s Special Health Report Boosting Your Energy provides advice and information from world-renowned medical experts that can help you discover the cause of your fatigue and find the right treatment or lifestyle changes.
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