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Are you experiencing fatigue? Here are the symptoms
We’ve all had those days where you can’t wait to get home and climb into bed. Your energy levels are low, you can’t focus at work and everything starts to suffer. Maybe you’re trying to bounce back after a late night so you get to bed early, sleep well and wake up feeling like yourself again.
But if you’ve been feeling exhausted for weeks on end and nothing you do seems to help, you may be experiencing ‘fatigue’.
More common than you may think, fatigue affects around 1.5 million Australians a year. There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing fatigue including, work stress, a medical condition, lifestyle and emotional issues. It could also be a combination of these. The important thing to note is that, if left untreated, fatigue can be dangerous for you and others. For instance, fatigue-related road accidents are almost three times as likely to be fatal since drivers who fall asleep at the wheel can't brake.
Fatigue is also linked to health conditions including:
- heart disease
- reproductive issues
- stomach problems
- and even some cancers.
When you’re fatigued, your decision-making ability and judgement also suffer. Your driving skills may be impaired, you could find it difficult to focus while writing a report, and operating heavy machinery may pose a real risk to your safety. Even crossing the road safely as a pedestrian may be affected.
The symptoms of fatigue
Safe Work Australia lists the symptoms of fatigue as:
- tiredness even after sleep
- reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
- short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
- blurred vision or impaired visual perception
- a need for extended sleep during days off work.
Other symptoms can include:
- excessive yawning
- red or bloodshot eyes
- sore, aching or weak muscles
- taking microsleeps (mini ‘naps’ that last a few seconds)
- lack of motivation
- loss of appetite.
If you’re struggling with any, or all, of these symptoms, you may be experiencing fatigue. So, what can you do?
- Make things safe for yourself and others. If you don’t feel fit enough to continue your tasks, speak with your supervisor about your concerns.
- It may not be safe for you to drive home. So consider taking alternative measures like having a nap, staying overnight in accommodation or taking public transport. You can also take the Test Your Tired Self interactive quiz to assess how safe it is for you to drive home.
When you get the opportunity to sleep and really recharge your batteries, make sure you’re getting enough good quality sleep. Take a look at your basic sleep hygiene and check in to see if you’re making any of these sleep mistakes.
“Around 1.5 million Australians experience fatigue every year. If you’re concerned about your energy levels, speak with your GP.”
Fatigue can be harmful to your health if left unchecked
There’s a difference between feeling tired for a couple of days and feeling a persistent tiredness that lasts for days and even weeks. If you feel like you could have the symptoms of fatigue, seek help from a health professional as soon as you can. This is not a condition you should ignore. Speak with your GP about assessing your lifestyle, work and medical factors. They can design a treatment plan or refer you to another medical professional who will help you restore your energy levels and get you back on your feet again.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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