What is Fatigue? Fatigue Symptoms and Causes

How many hours do you work per week? The fact is, in healthcare and many other fields, employees work way more hours than anyone should. This leads to physical and mental stressors that can be difficult to handle! If left unchecked and ignored, these issues can grow into bigger problems. So, exactly what is fatigue?

Have you ever felt like you were making more mistakes than usual? Physica and mental performance are reduced when experiencing fatigue. Something that is typically easy for you can seem like the most difficult task you’ve ever had. Sounds weird right? Fatigue can affect our safety, performance, productivity, and possibly most importantly – the quality of life.

Being overworked, stressed, and fatigued can take a toll on the body. Fatigue has been linked to a multitude of problems including cardiac events, high blood pressure, and a variety of psychological conditions. Learn about the symptoms and causes to help yourself stay healthy!

What is Fatigue? Fatigue Symptoms

  • General Run-Down Feeling – If you have a feeling of being run down or you’re more tired than normal – this can mean you are experiencing fatigue.
  • Can’t Get Out of Bed – Have you ever had trouble getting up for the day? If so, this could be a sign. Whether it is physical or mental tiredness – both can be significant problems.
  • Feeling Irritable – Mood swings or feelings of irritability are possible signs. Keep track of your normal mentality to see if you may be more vulnerable
  • Muscle Spasms – Being physically overworked can make your muscles tired. If you’re getting spasms, make sure you’re taking enough breaks.
  • Sore Muscles – Similarly, if you’re body is tired, then it’s definitely a sign of fatigue or overworking.
  • Loss of Appetite – Oftentimes if you’re working hard, your focus is elsewhere. This can lead to a day of not eating and not even getting hungry.
  • Headache/Dizziness – Experiencing dizziness and headaches are common with being overworked. Many factors contribute to this symptom such as dehydration, not eating, and being stressed.
  • Slow Reflexes – As stated above, if you are having trouble performing normal tasks, this is one big sign of fatigue. Your body just doesn’t want to work like it usually does.
  • Getting Sick More – Fatigue affects the immune system. If it seems like you’re getting sick more often, then you could be suffering.
  • Memory Problems – In addition to our muscles, the brain can lose some functioning as well. If you have short-term memory issues (that are kind of new), this could mean you are overworking.
  • Trouble Concentrating – Have you ever had trouble focusing on the task at hand? Concentration can be severely affected by fatigue.

Causes and Contributors

  • Medical Conditions – It’s possible that you have an underlying medical condition that is causing your problems.
  • Too Much/Too Little Sleep – I think most people know that they can get tired if they only sleep 3 hours – or if they sleep for 12 hours. Try to get your body on a good sleep routine.
  • Not Exercising – Exercise is a great combatant against many physical and psychological problems. You will naturally get an energy boost!
  • Work Shift – If you have a swing shift or night shift – your body can get thrown out of synch. We have a circadian rhythm that keeps us ticking. It can get thrown off with shift work.
  • Waking Up During Night – Do you sleep the night through or wake up a lot? If you have disturbances in sleep, you could be setting your body/mind up for feelings of fatigue.
  • Bad Diet – How is your diet? If you are eating junk food and not getting enough water then this could be causing some problems. Our bodies need proper nutrients and vitamins to stay in shape.
  • Illness/Injury – Being sick or having an injury makes our other muscles and brain work harder to make up for the issue. In addition, our immune system is affected by fatigue.
  • Burnout – Sometimes we just get burnt out. Here is a good article that will explain burnout. Similar to fatigue, burnout can lead to a variety of physical and psychological problems.
  • Stress in the Workplace – In general, do you feel stressed when working? This could be from a variety of issues including working conditions, shift work, co-worker relationships, and more.

What is Fatigue? Prevent Fatigue

  • Work-Life Balance – It’s important to do more than just work. Enjoying life outside of your job will help you stay physically and mentally strong.
  • Diet and Exercise – Having a proper diet while exercising will make a big difference. Your body will feel so much better with a few small changes.
  • Relax – Making time for simple relaxation is important! Whatever you do to relax will be enough, so just make sure you schedule it.
  • Be Organized – Have you ever felt rushed and stressed? Being organized will help reduce some of the mental stressors that can lead to being fatigued.
  • Proper Ergonomics – Your workstation could be part of the problem. Make sure you are working with ergonomics so that you aren’t unnecessarily harming yourself.
  • Develop SMART goals – Setting goals that are attainable will help you mentally and possibly physically as well. SMART goals can get you on a path to success!


Excessive fatigue can be dangerous to yourself and others. Whether you have a psychological condition, physical issue, or a combination of both – make sure you see your doctor for help!

If you are experiencing fatigue, then it’s important to get it checked out right away. The more you wait, the more the problems will arise.

Thanks and Good Luck!