Since my teen years, I’ve enjoyed physical activity. Exercise rarely failed to boost my mood even on my roughest days. So when I found myself barely able to run a mile without tiring, I grew more than a bit concerned and started asking myself: Why does my body ache and I feel tired all the time?
Fortunately in my case, correcting my fatigue proved relatively easy. Extreme tiredness can stem from several physical and mental health conditions. Unearthing the underlying cause of a long-term case of dragging feet is the first step on the road to regaining energy.
Why Does My Body Ache and I Feel Tired?
When my symptoms grew severe enough to affect my productivity at work as well as my desire to hit the gym regularly, I scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician. Several physical and mental illnesses can cause body aches coupled with debilitating fatigue, and I knew I needed to rule those out.
Getting a proper diagnosis can involve significant testing, and occasionally, intervention by specialists. Other causes of fatigue require only behavioral changes. For example, dehydration can cause tiredness and body aches, as can skipping meals, especially on a regular basis.
Common Disorders Causing Fatigue in Women
One of the reasons some women struggle to receive an accurate diagnosis is due to the wide range of disorders which could answer the question of “Why does my body ache and I feel tired?”
Here are just some of the medical conditions that commonly cause fatigue as a symptom:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): CFS refers to a condition in which people become extremely tired from activities that would not exhaust others. Women suffering from CFS may find themselves feeling achy and sore for more than 24 hours after a moderate workout. The cause of CFS remains unknown, although those who have contracted the Epstein-Barr virus — which causes mononucleosis — receive this diagnosis more often than those who never contracted it.
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS): POTS causes many symptoms, among them fatigue. In this disorder, the circulatory system cannot maintain homeostasis in blood flow due to problems with the nerves controlling the heart. Those suffering from this syndrome may find their hearts racing from standing upright for too long, and often experience dizziness or even fainting when transitioning from a lying or sitting position to a standing one.
- Anemia: Several forms of anemia exist. Regardless of the type of this disorder a woman suffers from, the side effects include significant fatigue. This is the answer I received to the question of “why does my body ache and I feel tired” — anemia is more common in women because they menstruate. Additionally, those following a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet like me are also more prone to developing the disorder, and they may require an iron supplement to keep their red blood cells healthy.
- Fibromyalgia: This disorder of the nervous system causes widespread pain, either concentrated in tender areas or all over like a bad case of the flu. It remains unclear as to whether those with fibromyalgia feel tired as a direct symptom of the disease or whether interruptions in the sleep cycle cause the problem. The answer may be both.
- Hypothyroidism: The thyroid gland governs metabolism, and when it becomes sluggish, fatigue results. A simple blood test can determine whether this is the underlying cause of a woman’s excess tiredness. Even though hypothyroidism is common, especially in women, it can be easily treated by balancing the hormones through medication.
- Major depressive disorder: Women are more prone to depression than men, and those with major depressive disorder may find themselves sleeping much of the time without feeling rested. Others develop insomnia, which likewise causes fatigue.
Reclaiming Energy and Glow
After determining the underlying cause of fatigue, women can put the bounce back in their step through proper treatment. Medicine can cure some disorders, and women suffering from illnesses currently lacking a remedy still can make changes that restore at least some of their former pluck.
When first experiencing overwhelming fatigue, women benefit from testing to see if making a few changes has an impact on their energy levels. Women who typically thrive on soda and coffee often start feeling better once they replace at least some of these beverages with plain water. Those with the habit of skipping breakfast may feel their energy levels soar when they devour a high-protein, high fiber morning meal.
Though it may seem like it would have the opposite effect, taking regular exercise boosts energy levels. This doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym. Walking and jogging are free, as is cycling. Those suffering from conditions like CFS or forms of arthritis that make working out difficult benefit from exercises such as tai chi and gentle aqua aerobics.
Overcoming Fatigue and Aches
While many factors may contribute to why a woman suffers body aches and excessive tiredness, nearly all feel at least a little better by staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet and participating in physical movement daily. A visit to the doctor can help her determine the underlying cause of her fatigue and treat it appropriately. Though it may take time to overcome excessive exhaustion, the payoffs in productivity and overall happiness make the effort worth it.