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In the medical world, fatigue is extreme tiredness and exhaustion that doesn’t disappear with rest or sleep and this can be a telling symptom of diabetes. Most adults require 6-8 hours of sleep.

Causes of fatigue

There are many things that can cause you to fell fatigued. The most common and obvious is a lack of sleep.

Most adults need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep a day, but this can vary quite a lot from person to person. It’s also important to remember that most people require less sleep as they get older.

Other common causes of fatigue include:

  • Anaemia –  a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells
  • Cancer – most types of cancer cause fatigue to a certain degree
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a condition that causes unexplained exhaustion and fatigue
  • Depression – constant tiredness is a major indicator of depression or emotional stress
  • Diabetes – sudden and extreme tiredness is one of the main symptoms of diabetes mellitus
  • Infections – fatigue can be brought on by various infections such as the flu (influenza)
  • Coeliac Disease – an autoimmune condition in which inflammation in the lining of the small intestine affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly.

Diabetes and fatigue

With diabetes, fatigue is caused by a number of factors, including:

  • High blood sugar levels, either from a lack of the insulin horomone or from insulin resistance, can affect the body’s ability to get glucose from the blood into cells to meet our energy needs
  • People on stronger diabetes medication such as insulin, may also experience fatigue as a symptom of low blood glucose levels.
  • Blood glucose testing can help to determine whether high or low sugar levels may be the cause of fatigue.

Recognising fatigue

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • A lack of, or no energy
  • Difficulty in carrying out simple everyday tasks
  • Feeling down or depressed (mental fatigue)

Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet and a good night’s rest can often boost your energy levels.

In addition, mindfulness and other meditation-based techniques are ideal for combating stress and depression and improving mental health.

When to call your doctor

If you are suffering from extreme tiredness that is not simply due to a lack of sleep and has gone on for three to four weeks, you should seek advice from your doctor and make an appointment for a check-up.

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