What is diabetes fatigue?
Diabetes is a life long condition that affects nearly half a billion people worldwide. Diabetes is a disease that causes blood sugar levels to rise, due to a lack of insulin functionality. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and is responsible for regulating glucose levels. It does this by facilitating the process of sugar absorption from the blood, into body cells. This process is how our bodies receive energy in order to function.
Maintaining properly regulated blood sugar levels is imperative to overall health. Having high blood sugar comes with a host of negative symptoms, including:
- Diabetes fatigue.
- Slow-healing wounds.
- Blurred vision.
- Frequent urination.
- Unexplained weight loss or gain.
- Sweet-smelling breath.
Diabetes fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of the disease and is greatly caused by an increase in blood sugar.
When we eat, the body quickly breaks down simple sugars called glucose, and subsequently, the pancreas releases enough insulin to facilitate the absorption of sugars that maintain energy levels.
If the pancreas can not produce enough insulin, or the body is no longer sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance), cells will not be able to absorb the glucose resulting in an increase in blood sugar.
When cells are no longer getting the required sugars, fatigue usually follows, along with dizziness and in severe cases hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is seen as a defining characteristic of diabetes, and it reffers to a state in which blood sugar levels are too high. Hyperglycemia, or being hyperglycemic is a serious and dangerous condition.
At the other end of the spectrum is hypoglycemia, the name given to the condition of too low blood sugar levels. Being in a state of hypoglycemia is equally as dangerous as hyperglycemia, and can have similarly serious, negative effects on the body. Hypoglycemia is usually seen in diabetics after submitting too high a dosage of synthetic insulin, which is followed by a depletion of glucose in the blood.
Having any imbalance in insulin and blood sugar levels will most likely result in unfavourable side effects.
Type 1 Diabetes fatigue.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas is turned on by antibodies, attacking it as if it were a foreign body. Eventually, the pancreas is weakened to a point in which it can no longer produce enough insulin, or any insulin for that matter and can not effectively regulate blood sugar.
The treatment for type 1 diabetes includes strictly timed injections of synthetic insulin that regulate blood sugar and keep the body functioning.
Type 2 Diabetes fatigue.
Type 2 is the more common of the two types of diabetes and is usually seen as the milder of the pair. In those enduring type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces some insulin, but not enough to effectively manage blood sugar levels. Fortunately, those with type 2 diabetes are not entirely insulin injection reliant, as those of type 1 are. Depending on the severity of diabetes, they may still, however, require some degree of synthetic insulin supplementation.
Obesity is the foremost risk factor leading to the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Having a higher than average body fat percentage is directly linked to developing insulin resistance. As such, it is important for those showing the early diabetic symptoms, fatigue, frequent urination, weight gain etc. To try and reduce body fat percentage in order to slow down onset.
Slowing down the onset will reduce the chance of developing diabetes type 2 extreme fatigue. Type 2 sufferers explain this to be a level of fatigue reached by not proactively working on reducing symptoms and minimising progression.
How to beat diabetes fatigue.
Blood sugar levels are not the only contributing factor leading to diabetic fatigue and there are many other relevant causes to note. In order to beat the fatigue, you need to understand the leading culprits first. The following are just a few of many examples of what causes fatigue in diabetes:
It has been identified that those suffering from diabetes also endure increased levels of inflammation across the body. This is because having excess body fat leads to a cytokine increase in the body. Cytokines are a group of proteins that identify as signalling molecules, they regulate immunity, hematopoiesis, and inflammation.
Abdominal inflammation leads to insulin resistance, which causes more weight gain, an endless circle of weight gain, followed by more inflammation and vice versa. Generalised inflammation is taxing on the body and leads to increased levels of fatigue.
Thyroid deficiencies are twice as common in those with diabetes than those without. Hypothyroidism is the slowing down of the metabolism, caused by a lack of hormone production and efficiency from the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism leads to many adverse symptoms including fatigue.
Not being able to metabolise carbohydrates effectively for energy is the main reason why hypothyroidism results in fatigue.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects the way a person thinks, feels and acts. Symptoms of depression include feeling down or upset, loss of interest in certain activities and an increase in generalised fatigue.
Sufferers of diabetes are at a higher risk of developing depression. The two conditions share some similar symptoms, such as sleeping a lot, comfort eating and feeling less energised. Although diabetes does not directly cause depression, living with the condition can be mentally taxing and difficult to deal with on an ongoing, continuous basis.
Any mental strain can leave you feeling overly fatigued as a result.
Unfortunately, improper diet is one of the leading causes of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating an unbalanced, high-calorie diet comprised of unhealthy fats, refined sugars and processed food can and most probably will lead to an increase in body fat. These excess fat stores are what cause the body to become resistant to insulin and in turn, develop diabetes.
Eating poorly, and not keeping active are guaranteed ways to leave your body feeling under the weather and fatigued. Having a higher body fat percentage is also linked to lower testosterone levels in men, another manifestation resulting in fatigue.
5 tips on how to find your diabetes fatigue cure and reduce symptoms.
Tip 1. Identify.
The very first step when looking to treat diabetes-related fatigue is to identify the cause to the best of your abilities.
Treatment is specific to each individual and it is essential to distinguish the root in order to move forward and develop a plan that will help to reduce symptoms.
Ask yourself, could my medication be contributing to my fatigue? Is my diet the best it can be? How much do I know about the functionality of my thyroid? It would be impossible to pinpoint the cause exactly, but through a process of elimination, you can get a pretty solid idea. Identification is the most essential step in reducing fatigue.
Tip 2. Diet.
Diet is one of the leading causes of diabetic fatigue. Getting a well balanced, highly varied and nutritious diet is essential to feeling energised and at your best. Those suffering from diabetes, both type 1 and 2 would benefit from following a low GI diet. A low GI diet promotes eating foods that minimise spikes in blood sugar, making insulin level management easier.
Tip 3. Exercise.
Equally as important as diet, keeping active and exercising regularly will keep your body weight in check, all whilst boosting levels of endorphins that will boost your mood, reduce stress, and increase energy levels.
Tip 4. Lifestyle.
Being fatigued on a regular bases can send you into a slippery downward spiral of bad choices that can quickly get out of hand. Sometimes the best thing to do when suffering from fatigue is to reevaluate and adjust your lifestyle.
Try going to sleep earlier, and waking up earlier too. Start your mornings with a walk outside before enjoying a healthy breakfast. Set some goals for the day ahead. By following a proactive routine you can fall into a rhythm with some momentum that will reduce feelings of fatigue.
Tip 5. Support.
Last but not least, get some help! Living with diabetes is no easy task. Getting some support from friends, family and/or professionals can really aid in lightening the load, giving you some much-needed relief both mentally and physically.
Mental fatigue should be faced with as much attention as that felt in the body.