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Diabetes and Fatigue: Understanding the Relationship and What You Can Do About It

If you have diabetes, you may feel tired often. This is a common symptom, and it can be frustrating to…(continue reading)

If you have diabetes, you may feel tired often. This is a common symptom, and it can be frustrating to deal with. Fatigue makes it difficult to do everyday tasks and can also lead to other health problems too. In this article, we will discuss the relationship between diabetes and fatigue and what you can do to help alleviate your fatigue.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body regulates glucose, which is your blood sugar. It causes your body to reject insulin, a hormone that helps move glucose from your blood into your cells to give them energy, or not use insulin properly. This can lead to high blood glucose levels that if left untreated can damage your body over time.

There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes occurs when the body does not have the correct insulin levels. This happens due to your immune system attacking the cells that make insulin in your pancreas. Type two diabetes, which is much more common, occurs when the body does not use insulin properly usually due to insulin resistance. This form of diabetes can often be managed through diet and lifestyle changes but some people may need medication as well. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed when you are a child, teen, or young adult while the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes usually happens as an adult although both can occur at any time. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after giving birth.

Why does diabetes make you tired?

One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is fatigue. There are several reasons this happens, including: 

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels

When your body does not have enough energy to do what it needs to, you may feel tired. High blood sugar levels can prevent your body from using glucose properly, which is its main source of energy.

Complications from diabetes

If you have diabetes, you may be at a higher risk for developing other conditions that can cause fatigue such as kidney problems, cardiovascular disease, infections, and nerve damage from diabetic neuropathy. As your body fights to overcome these complications, along with high glucose levels, you may feel fatigued.

Obesity

People who are obese often suffer from fatigue because their body has to work harder to do everyday activities. If you are overweight, the excess weight puts stress on your heart and other organs which can lead to a lack of energy. 

Mental and emotional health

People with diabetes are more likely to experience depression and anxiety [Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26452174/]. Depression can lead to fatigue due to inadequate sleep as well as other symptoms. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to reach out to a professional for help.

Other symptoms

Fatigue isn’t the only symptom of diabetes. In fact, there are others that are just as common. These include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss

Although these conditions do not always directly contribute to tiredness, they can take a toll on the body and cause frustration which can cause fatigue. For example, if you have to urinate frequently while asleep this can disrupt your sleep pattern making you feel even more fatigued.

How do you manage fatigue caused by diabetes?

There are a few things you can do to help manage your fatigue and usually involve lifestyle choices. These lifestyle choices include:

Exercise

Exercise can help increase your energy levels and lose excess weight as well as improve your sleep and quality of life. It is important to find an exercise routine that works for you and stick with it.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a nutritious diet helps your body get the nutrients it needs to function properly. This includes complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals which will help maintain your weight and live a healthy life.

Manage your blood sugar levels

Maintaining even blood sugar levels can be done by monitoring your blood sugar regularly, taking your medication as prescribed, and making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising. Also, make sure to manage any other complications that could be caused by diabetes such as heart disease.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. Adults should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.

Limiting stress

Stress can have a negative impact on your health and can lead to fatigue. There are ways to manage stress such as practicing yoga or meditation, journaling, or talking to a therapist.

Is there anything else that could be causing my fatigue besides diabetes?

There are other conditions that can cause fatigue such as anemia, thyroid problems, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic conditions, and certain medications among many others. If you are experiencing fatigue, it is important to talk to your doctor to rule out any other potential causes.

When should I see my doctor?

If you think you may have diabetes or if you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes it is important to see your doctor or health care professional regularly to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It is also important to see your doctor if you are struggling to manage your fatigue even after making lifestyle changes. Your doctor can help you come up with a plan to manage your fatigue and diabetes.

Summary

Diabetes is a disease where your blood sugar levels become too high due to your body not producing enough insulin or not properly using it. It can also cause fatigue due to a number of reasons such as being overweight, poor mental health, other diabetes symptoms, and not maintaining normal blood sugar levels. There are things you can do to help manage your fatigue including exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and limiting stress. If you are struggling to manage your fatigue it is important to see your doctor. If you have any more questions please talk to your doctor or health care provider to determine the best treatment plan for you.

References and Sources:

NIH

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Erik Rivera and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera. 

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