Diabetes fatigue is a condition that can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to fight fatigue and regain your energy.
What exactly is fatigue?
Fatigue is different from feeling tired. You may feel tired after working a long week or not getting enough sleep. Fatigue, on the other hand, is a constant and excessive tiredness that is usually not relieved by rest. It affects your energy, motivation, and concentration.
What Is Diabetes Fatigue?
There is a strong relationship between diabetes and fatigue. In a study published in Diabetes Care, 40% of patients with Type I diabetes experienced chronic fatigue. Some studies show that up to 85% of people with diabetes suffer from fatigue.
Fatigue is a distressing disorder that can make daily tasks difficult to carry out.
Some signs and symptoms of fatigue:
- Chronic tiredness
- Achy muscles
- Slowed reflexes
- Inability to concentrate
- Low motivation
Causes of Diabetes Fatigue
Causes of diabetes fatigue are many and are likely due to a combination of physiological, psychological and lifestyle factors.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes of diabetes-related fatigue.
Changes in blood: Having diabetes changes your blood. Those with diabetes have been shown to have a higher blood viscosity, or blood thickness, than the average healthy person. Thick blood makes it harder for cells to flow through the bloodstream, carrying energy and oxygen to parts of the body, including the brain.
Inflammation: Inflammation, a common problem associated with diabetes, causes fatigue. Inflammation affects the nervous system, which sends messages to the brain that the body needs to take a rest and heal. If that communication system is off, fatigue can be a problem.
Other complications: Diabetes leads to other complications that play a significant role in fatigue. These complications including:
- Insulin resistance
- Sleep apnoea
- Low testosterone levels
- Low or high thyroid levels
Emotional distress: The mental and emotional stress associated with managing diabetes can cause significant fatigue. Diabetes management requires a challenging lifestyle regimen. This regimen can be tiresome to sustain, leading to burnout and feelings of exhaustion.
Depression: There is a strong relationship between depression and diabetes. A meta-analysis reported that individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from depression than the general population. Depression can cause people to feel fatigued, low on energy and sapped of motivation.
Obesity and weight gain: Almost 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Being overweight is largely related to fatigue for a variety of reasons. Firstly, carrying around extra weight is tiring. Obese individuals are also more likely to develop complications that bring about fatigue, such as sleep apnoea.
Poor eating habits: A poor diet can lead to diabetes fatigue. The body needs certain nutrients on a daily basis to feel its best. When a diet is lacking in essential nutrients, the body doesn’t have the energy it needs to perform optimally.
Lack of physical activity: It may seem ironic, but sitting or lying down all day can actually make you tired. Physical activity positively impacts energy levels.
Other Causes of Fatigue
While extreme tiredness is a symptom of diabetes, many other factors can cause fatigue, including:
- Lack of sleep
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Food intolerances
- Other chronic illnesses
It’s important to talk with your physician about your symptoms to rule out other possible causes.
How to Regain Your Energy
Diabetes fatigue can become a vicious cycle.
Tiredness causes you to be demotivated and sluggish. This constant state of sleepiness often leads to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. We’ve already mentioned that poor diet and exercise habits can exacerbate fatigue. You may even begin to neglect your diabetes treatment regimen. This lack of motivation can lead to stress or depression, which makes fatigue even worse!
You might be thinking you’re doomed at this point.
The good news is you’re not doomed! I won’t sugarcoat it. Diabetes fatigue is very challenging. But it’s certainly possible to overcome.
The first and most important step is to visit your physician. Not only can they rule out other possible causes of your fatigue, but they can help give some practical steps to overcome it.
Here are some other things that can be done to regain your energy and feel great:
- Keep blood sugar levels in check.
- Make sleep a priority by getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Take power naps during the day if possible.
- Maintain your diabetes management regimen.
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.
- Move more! Exercise is crucial to boosting energy levels and feeling great.
- Set aside time each day for relaxation to manage stress levels.
- Try out the GlycoLeap app: a personal qualified health coach to cheer you on!
While making these lifestyle changes, the best thing you can do is to go easy on yourself. New habits are hard to form and being super rigid and hard on yourself will only lead to stress and more fatigue. Make changes slowly, give yourself some space to make mistakes, and get right back on track after you fall off.
Diabetes fatigue is rather common, and it can have a profound impact on your mood, well-being, and quality of life. It can be a tough problem to overcome, but it’s not impossible.
By visiting your doctor and making some simple lifestyle changes, you can fight your way out of fatigue and start to feel your very best.