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Why you are always tired?

Deficiency of Vitamin D is a global problem which may be affecting almost half the population

Gautam Mukhopadhyay | Published 07.11.22, 07:01 AM
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Feeling tired, lazy or unmotivated is a common problem. Tired all the time is also known as TATT. Unexplained tiredness is one of the most common reasons for people to consult the general practitioner in many countries, though it is not a common trend in Bengal.

Here, only a definite physical ailment prompts a visit to a doctor.

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Tiredness not only affects the quality of life, but is also responsible for loss of focus and aim in life. Ambitions may get curtailed. Although the vital signs are normal, the individual may not be able to function adequately. Post-exertional malaise, unrefreshing sleep, impaired memory or concentration and generalised pain could be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Such problems definitely need attention.

British rule

During the British era, many commented that the lazy Bengali native had a sedentary way of life and a dejected state of mind. They were incapable of performing rigorous duties like serving in the army. Such misconceptions were propagated in society. Feeling tired is an individual problem and no community can be targeted for this.

Thomas Macaulay, who shaped the education policy in occupied India around 1834, said: “Whatever the Bengali does he does languidly. His favourite pursuits are sedentary. He shrinks from bodily exertion.”

A retired colonel of the Indian Army has rightly said: “There is no regiment in Bengal called Bengal Regiment, like Bihar Regiment or Madras Regiment. This may be root cause of the misconception that Bengalis stay away from the army.”

  • Muscle cramps 
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Hair loss n Depression

Vitamin D is available in fatty fish, cod liver oil, egg yolk, cow milk, cereals and orange juice, among other food items. Other than diet, sun exposure is an important source. However, there may be poor absorption in old age and in people with darker skin. Also, there may not be adequate sunlight in the winter months. During the Covid period, the advice was to stay indoors. That has increased the problems. Vitamin D can be low because of obesity and various gastro-intestinal diseases. The fatigue severity scale (FSS) is a nine-question scale having a score from 9 to 63 to measure the extent of tiredness. However, Vitamin D levels are not routinely tested and can go unrecognised at times.

Fatigue

The Covid situation during the last two years seems to have diverted attention from other medical problems. Staying indoors has reduced physical activity and exposure to sunlight drastically. The various causes of tiredness needs to be properly identified and treated.

Psychological: These causes are more common than physical causes. It may lead to poor sleep or insomnia. Daytime sleepiness and tiredness is a major problem. Increase in stress or emotional shock because of certain events in the family can be detrimental. Depression and anxiety may be subtle and need to be identified.

Such psychological causes of tiredness are often unrecognised in the family till they are over.

Physical: Iron deficiency anaemia and thyroid dysfunctions are common causes of.

Whether a Bengal Regiment should be incorporated as a tribute to the fearless freedom fighters of West Bengal is beyond the scope of this column. However, the people of West Bengal can excel in all professions.

The reasons of feeling tired are scientific and better understood today. It is a global phenomenon. It cannot be limited to West Bengal only.

Vitamin D

Deficiency of Vitamin D is a global problem which may be affecting almost half the population according to an estimate. It is a cause of fatigue, which is not only preventable but also correctable by a weekly capsule for a few weeks. A blood test is enough for diagnosis. It can also be associated with other causes of tiredness.

Vitamin D helps in the development of bones and muscles and maintains the calcium levels in the body, among other functions. The common symptoms of deficiency may include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Bone pain
  • Tiredness

Obesity may lead to sleep apnoea and disturbance of sleep rhythm. Those who are underweight may have poor muscle strength, leading to extreme fatigue.

Cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, chemotherapy or major surgery may develop chronic fatigue syndrome. In all these situations medical opinion is mandatory.

Lifestyle: Alcohol abuse may lead to fatigue. Adequate physical activity for at least 30 minutes daily is essential for an active life. Too much caffeine in tea, coffee or energy drinks may cause disturbance in sleep. Those who work in night shifts are forced to sleep during the daytime. This causes a change in the sleep rhythm, which may lead to tiredness. It may be better to avoid long hours of work at a stretch or too many late nights and be fatigued throughout the day.

Today, there are many people who do desk jobs in sitting position all through the day. This drastically reduces physical activity and energy. It maybe advisable to do the same work in standing desks.

Walking during the lunch break can burn some more calories. It may even be better to use a treadmill desk for work if it is convenient.

If you feel tired all the time, medical advice will be helpful.

Gautam Mukhopadhyay is the secretary of the Bengal Oncology Foundation and clinical director of the department of surgical oncology, Peerless Hospital

Last updated on 07.11.22, 11:45 AM
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