Tiredness, or fatigue, means having less energy than usual. You feel exhausted, either mentally, physically, or both. Tiredness is a normal part of life, but if it persists, it may suggest a medical problem.
We have all experienced tiredness (fatigue) at some point. Usually there's a good reason for it ... A new baby keeping you up at night, having a bit of a cold, a late night out on the town, or (less enjoyably) long hours at work. Tiredness that drags on for no apparent reason, however, can be a real problem, and it's incredibly common. About 6 in every 100 people going to see their GP are there because they feel tired. It's so common that GPs have an acronym for it ... TATT, which means "tired all the time".
Do I need to see a doctor?
If you can figure out the reason for feeling tired yourself, and do something about it, then no. If the tiredness is getting in the way of your life, or making you feel unhappy, or you feel unwell, then yes, you should visit your doctor.
You should definitely see a doctor if you feel tired and have lost weight without trying to. Also see a doctor if you have other symptoms as well as being tired, such as coughing up blood, a change in the way your guts are working, heavy periods or a lump somewhere it shouldn't be.
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Further reading & references
- Tiredness/fatigue in adults; NICE CKS, February 2015 (UK access only)
- Hamilton W, Watson J, Round A; Investigating fatigue in primary care. BMJ. 2010 Aug 24 341:c4259. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c4259.
- Rosenthal TC, Majeroni BA, Pretorius R, et al; Fatigue: an overview. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Nov 15 78(10):1173-9.
- Vaucher P, Druais PL, Waldvogel S, et al; Effect of iron supplementation on fatigue in nonanemic menstruating women with low ferritin: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ. 2012 Aug 7 184(11):1247-54. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.110950. Epub 2012 Jul 9.
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