For many Brits, feeling tired is par for the course, and with busy work and family lives, it's little wonder many find themselves struggling to stay awake. But if you're tired all the time, or downright exhausted with no reasonable explanation, it could be a sign of something altogether more serious.
Since fatigue is a fairly common problem, many of us don't realise that it is in fact a symptom of a physical issue.
Iron-deficiency anaemia is a common cause, and may also leave you with a heavy feeling in the muscles or a general feeling of lethargy. It is most common among women, particularly those who are pregnant or have very heavy periods.
An underactive thyroid gland means the body is producing too little of the hormone thyroxine, which causes that fatigued feeling. Unexplained weight gain and aching muscles are other symptoms, and the condition is more common in women.
Type 2 diabetes, which is very much on the rise in the UK, typically causes fatigue, along with a need to urinate more frequently and feeling thirsty.
An intolerance to the gluten found in wheat products such as bread, cakes and pasta, coeliac disease often presents with symptoms of diarrhoea and weight loss alongside tiredness.
Usually occurring in teenagers and young adults, glandular fever can leave the sufferer feeling exhausted, and this viral infection often also causes a sore throat, swollen glands and, as the name suggests, a fever. While these other symptoms usually disappear within four to six weeks, the fatigue can last a good deal longer, often months.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), CFS results in tiredness that severely affects day-to-day life, and often affects the sufferer for six months or more. A sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headaches are other common symptoms.
It is not just physical illness that can affect your energy levels. Your mental wellbeing could also be a cause for that constant fatigue. Anxiety, which, in these times of money and job stress, is a growing problem amongst Brits, can lead to disturbed sleep or even insomnia, unsurprisingly leaving you feeling the strain during the day. Depression is also linked with feelings of exhaustion, along with lack of interest in things you used to enjoy, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and prolonged and persistent low mood. Even positive changes can put a strain on you, with stressful house moves and marriages among those events that can lead to disturbed sleep and subsequent fatigue.
While tiredness can be caused by both physical and psychological problems, in some cases, a simple lifestyle change can make all the difference. A couple of pints after work might make you feel as though some of that stress and tension has gone, too much alcohol before bed has been shown to disturb sleep. A bad diet could also be to blame - being either overweight or underweight can mean you tire quickly and feel fatigued, so try a healthy eating plan and get regular exercise to boost your energy levels.
Whatever the cause, if fatigue is affecting your day-to-day life, and you are tired all the time, don't dismiss it. Your GP can rule out many of the more serious causes with a simple blood test, and they may be able to refer you for counselling, therapy or prescribe medication if your mental health is causing you to suffer.
Did you visit your doctor because of fatigue? What advice would you give to others? Leave your comments below...