Fatigue as an indication of an illness

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Always tired? Lack of sleep or illness can be a possible cause of acute fatigue.

Every second working person in Germany is suffering from symptoms of acute fatigue despite a good night's sleep. Those affected feel like they are being wheeled, dragging themselves through the day or suddenly falling asleep at work, according to a study by the German Employee Health Insurance Fund (DAK).

20 million working people suffer from acute fatigue According to the DAK, around 20 million working people nationwide suffer from symptoms of chronic fatigue, with almost four million of them struggling with sleep disorders more than three times a week or sleeping poorly, waking up frequently or lying awake for a long time. According to the DAK study, they drag themselves through their everyday work almost completely tired almost every day. This constant exhaustion can also indicate an illness and should therefore not be dismissed lightly, the DAK experts explained. Jürgen Schuster, who works as a trainer and coach for health prevention with a focus on sleep and stress management, emphasized: "Severe daytime sleepiness is a phenomenon that should not be underestimated." The specialist added that "(...) it is (often) a sleep disorder (is) who don't even notice those affected and who can usually only be found in the sleep laboratory. "

Sleep apnea syndrome possible cause of pronounced fatigue The experts cite the so-called sleep apnea syndrome as an example, the symptoms of which are caused by respiratory arrests (apneas) during sleep and are primarily characterized by pronounced daytime tiredness up to the need to fall asleep (second sleep) and a number of others Expresses symptoms and complications. Breathing interruptions are caused by slackening of the muscles in the pharynx and occur particularly often in the supine position, with the tongue sliding back and closing the throat. "With sleep apnea, people hold their breath for just under a minute until the body sounds the alarm and wakes up briefly, accompanied by an audible gasp for breath," explained Jürgen Schuster. However, the repeated wake-up reactions (alarm reaction of the body) do not automatically lead to waking up, but sometimes only to increased bodily functions, such as an accelerated pulse. They are usually not noticed by those affected, but sleep is not sufficiently restful, which triggers the typical, pronounced tiredness during the day with the symptoms mentioned above. According to the sleep expert Schuster, the likelihood of sleep apnea syndrome increases with evening alcohol consumption or being overweight. However, an underdeveloped neck muscles can cause problems. On the other hand, "People who play a wind instrument, sing or play sports (...) are less at risk because their neck muscles are firmer and tighter," the expert said.

Persistent pronounced tiredness is a reason to visit a doctor. In any case, people should "go to the doctor if there is persistent intense tiredness (...) and test whether there could be a disease or a deficiency", recommends the doctor Katharina Larisch from Leipzig, because the tiredness not only an expression of lack of sleep but also a sign of illness. For example, a thyroid dysfunction is also accompanied by acute fatigue. When visiting a doctor, however, the disease can be diagnosed relatively easily using a blood count and an ultrasound examination and treated with medication accordingly, explained Katharina Larisch. Women should be particularly careful in this regard, as they are far more likely to suffer from thyroid dysfunction than men. An analysis of the blood count also reveals other deficiency symptoms such as iron deficiency, the doctor explained and added: "Often the additional supply of a food supplement is enough and the tiredness disappears". In addition, the tiredness or acute fatigue is in many cases simply caused by low blood pressure. "In this case, movement gets the circulation going" and helps to combat fatigue, Katharina Larisch recommends. Since the cause of constant exhaustion can also be serious illnesses such as depression, heart problems or cancer, medical advice is always sensible in the case of persistent fatigue.

Lack of sleep mostly due to psychological reasons The conversation therapist and author Anette Charpentier emphasized: "Daytime sleepiness can be an indicator of an illness, but mostly it is psychological reasons that leave us sleepless and tired." Fatigue is a signal from the body for the need to rest. But "in our busy time, where we can do something around the clock, it is often annoying to be tired," said Annette Charpentier. The tiredness is ignored or pushed aside “because we are reluctant to lose control,” the interviewer said. However, the body is concerned with letting go and indulging in the comfort between being awake and sleeping, Charpentier emphasized.

If you recognize symptoms in yourself, you should take a break. According to the expert, this can also have another positive side effect, because “daydreaming can give rise to new ideas and thoughts.” For example, Sigmund Freud had his patients told while lying down, Charpentier explained. "On the famous couch you can easily put yourself in the limbo between waking and sleeping and freely associate," explained the therapist. In addition, the somewhat out-of-fashion afternoon nap can help to recharge your batteries and go awake through the rest of the day. However, Charpentier advises that the nap should not last longer than half an hour, as otherwise it would be difficult to fall asleep and sleep through the night. As a trick to be fit again immediately after nap, the expert recommends: "Drink a cup of coffee shortly before, because it only takes 20 minutes to work."

Daylight is particularly important in the fight against fatigue
In the dark season in particular, daytime tiredness can also be related to a lack of light, which is associated with so-called autumn depression in many sufferers, explained health coach Jürgen Schuster. "Many drive back to work at dusk and in the dark in the evening and spend the whole day in the open-plan office under neon light, where they don't get any real light," the expert explains. As a result, the body's own messenger substances melatonin (for the night's rest) and serotonin (for the drive during the day) are out of balance in winter. Serotonin is produced during the day by the influence of light, and the more serotonin is formed, the better the hormonal countermeasures by melatonin work at night, emphasized Schuster. "Daylight is important, artificial light does not help, except for special light showers", the expert explained in order to form serotonin. For this reason, Schuster recommends going outside at lunch and spending a lot of time outdoors during the day. Because even on a cloudy winter day, daylight is enough to release enough serotonin as a stimulant. In addition, sport is also particularly recommended in the dark season, since exercise naturally makes you tired and leads to a deep, efficient sleep, "so that we actually only get tired in the evening," emphasized Jürgen Schuster.

Sleep is crucial for human well-being Sleeping is essential for everyone, since numerous important processes take place inside the body during sleep. The healing processes or the repair of the cells and the replacement of old cells with new ones as well as the immune system and the final digestion work at full speed. Our brain also arranges the impressions of the day. "Sleep is therefore essential for physical, mental and emotional well-being," as Katharina Larisch explained. In the long run, less than six hours of sleep can lead to irritation and, on the other hand, the person being more susceptible to depression, according to the expert. In addition, the lack of sleep leads to a significantly shorter life expectancy. However, the need for sleep can vary greatly from person to person and in different age phases, so that "one should definitely rely on one's inner voice", explained Katharina Larisch. However, the doctor warns that an overdose of sleep is also possible. According to Larisch, permanently more than eight hours of sleep are not good for your health and only wasted time. (fp)

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