Fatigue is one of the most common physical complaints and accounts for roughly 55 percent of all visits to primary care physicians. Almost everyone feels fatigue at some time during their life. Some of the more common causes of fatigue are stress, over activity, poor physical conditioning, or inadequate sleep.
When fatigue lasts more than a few days or when it affects the normal activities of daily life, a more serious underlying disorder may be present and a thorough evaluation is necessary. We know that drugs may cause fatigue by altering one’s normal sleep patterns or metabolism. Drugs most commonly associated with fatigue include sedatives and tranquilizers, some antihistamines, analgesics, and a number of high blood pressures medications, specifically those known as beta-blockers. The resultant abnormal sleep pattern is a common cause of fatigue, even though the number of hours slept may be normal.
Depression is probably the most common cause of chronic fatigue. In a classical case of depression, fatigue is often accompanied by mood changes, loss of appetite or change in appetite, and sleep disturbances. Depression can present more in subtle ways and should always be suspected when no obvious cause for the fatigue can be found, especially in elderly persons.
Fatigue that lasts for an extended period of time warrants a visit to his or her primary care physician for an assessment. Be prepared when you go to your primary care physician; bring a list of medications and vitamins that you take, so that your physician can better assess your overall health status.