Ask the Doctor: Handling school and work, will fatigue kill me?

I am 26 years old. Around September I took on an evening course because I work during the day. However, I thought I could handle it though nowadays I find myself fatigued beyond words. I thought I would have time over the weekends to catch up on some rest but I have lectures.

I am 26 years old. Around September I took on an evening course because I work during the day. However, I thought I could handle it though nowadays I find myself fatigued beyond words. I thought I would have time over the weekends to catch up on some rest but I have lectures.

I have now had this migraine for quite some time and no pain killer seems to work. My eyes look heavier than usual yet I try to go to bed early. My course is three years and I don’t know if I will be able to keep up. Won’t my body just give in? I heard people die of fatigue. Anything you can recommend?

 

Jane, Gikondo 

 

Dear Jane,

 

A healthy body is the first and foremost pleasure in this world, as you can work and enjoy pleasures of the world only because of it. As you are feeling tired, unable to cope with the amount of work, it needs a review as to why it is happening.

The most common cause for fatigue in a young woman could be chronic anemia. Heavy menstrual bleeding, taking oral contraceptives, defective diet, chronic worm infestation, all these can lead to chronic anemia, which reduces physical stamina of an individual.

In this era, diabetes has emerged as one of the biggest causes of fatigue. This happens because the body is unable to utilise the glucose present in blood. Chronic constipation if present makes one feel dull and lethargic most of the time.

Hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, also cause weakness.   

Any chronic illness or systemic disorders like liver or heart or kidney failure for example cause extreme fatigue. Apart from these factors, one can get tired easily also due to physical and mental stress. Imagine the situation where the work is not to one’s liking. Same amount of work seems to be stressful in contrast to when working in a harmonious atmosphere. Lack of adequate sleep adds to physical stress. Same kind of stress leads to migraines or tension headaches. Chronic headache can be due to defects in vision as well. The risk is higher if one works with computers for long hours.

It is better for you to exclude a treatable disease. A complete blood count including hemoglobin estimation, fasting blood glucose estimation, stool examination for parasites and protozoa, are the basic tests you should do. Examination of vision will reveal any mild problem of vision, which can easily be corrected by suitable eye glasses.

Take a balanced diet including lots of whole grains, fresh fruits, eggs, fish and milk. Meal times should be regular as far as possible.  If you are using alcohol or tobacco, quit it.  Similarly timings for sleeping and waking up should also be regular. 

An uninterrupted sleep of seven to eight hours is helpful to relax the body and avoid physical stress. Regular physical exercise helps one feel fresh and energetic, improves appetite, and helps in prevention and better control of diabetes and hypertension thus improving overall health and stamina of an individual.

A useful mantra to avoid mental stress is to enjoy whatever work you have to do. Thus such a cheerful attitude keeps an individual stress free and free from stress related problems like headache and easy fatigue.

Dr. Rachna Pande is a specialist in Internal Medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital

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