13 March 2018
Q: Dear doctor feel tired all the time and find it hard to cope with daily tasks. What can I expect from a visit to my GP?
A: Fatigue is a common symptom and has a range of causes. There are a number of physical causes such as diabetes, thyroid disease, anaemia and sleep apnoea but the commonest cause is just our busy stressful lives.
We often don’t feel stressed but it is rare not to suffer quite significantly at some point in our lives. Stress may be due to work or home issues and often presents with physical symptoms − some people experience abdominal pain, headaches, a feeling of impending doom or just don’t seem to enjoy things as much as they used to. When patients are stressed they often don’t sleep very well which compounds the feeling of fatigue.
I would advise seeing your GP and explaining your symptoms who will then ask you further questions to determine whether there is a physical cause. This would include; pains anywhere in the body, breathlessness, change in bowel habit, weight loss and family history of illnesses such as thyroid disease or anaemia.
If there is any doubt, they may arrange some blood tests which can check you for anaemia, diabetes or thyroid disease. A blood test is usually taken from the vein in front of your elbow, is quick and easy to do and relatively pain free. Don't be disappointed if they offer bloods and they are normal, it will just indicate you may need to look at your lifestyle and work-life balance. Lifestyle changes would include stopping smoking if you smoke, evaluating your diet and exercise habits, and cutting down stimulants like tea, coffee and alcohol.
Find out more about Dr Mark Coombe, GP practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.