Fatigue and headaches are bothersome symptoms that affect millions of Americans every day. Fatigue is a symptom, not a disease, and it affects everyone differently. Fatigue and headaches can range from mild to severe, and can interfere with everyday life and relationships. Stress, dehydration, and lack of sleep and exercise are all common causes of these symptoms. There are several uncommon causes of fatigue and headaches, primarily underlying health conditions. It is important to be aware of these uncommon causes of fatigue and headaches.
Fatigue and Headaches
Fatigue refers to the feeling of weakness, exhaustion, and decreased energy levels. It affects each individual differently, ranging from mild to severe. Fatigue can cause symptoms like difficulty concentrating, headaches, drowsiness, irritability and lethargy.
Headaches are defined by pain experienced in any region of the head - on one or both sides, isolated in one specific area or radiating all over. A headache is caused when the blood vessels in the scalp constantly dilate and contract. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and they are characterized by dull, aching pain. Migraines are severe headaches that can last several hours to several days, and they can be incapacitating.
It is important to be aware of these uncommon causes of fatigue and headaches.
Chronic fatigue syndrome. This is an uncommon condition that affects approximately four to eight of every 1,000 adults. Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by constantly being tired.
Anemia. Anemia is the decreased amount of red blood cells, which is typically caused by low iron levels. Anemia causes symptoms like fatigue and hair loss.
Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition caused by an underactive thyroid, which means the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism typically causes fatigue.
Flying headache. This is an uncommon cause of headaches, but occurs during airplane flights. This type of headache is most likely caused by dehydration and changes in air pressure.
Arthritis headaches. Also called cervicogenic headaches, these are characterized by pain in the neck and head.
Caffeine withdrawal headache. This type of headache is caused by suddenly cutting out caffeine from your diet. It is recommended to try and wane off of caffeine slowly in order to avoid these headaches.
Food headaches. Nitrates commonly found in hot dogs and lunch meats are known to cause headaches in some sufferers.
Fatigue and headaches are frustrating symptoms that affect more than half of adults on average. They can range from mild to severe and impede everyday life. It is important to be aware of both the common and uncommon causes of fatigue and headaches. Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle can also help prevent these symptoms.
- Allison, K. (2011). Fight fatigue by finding the cause. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fight-fatigue-by-finding-the-cause-201107062952
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Tension-type headaches. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/headaches-tension-type/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Why am I tired all the time? Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/why-am-I-tired.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Fatigue. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/fatigue.html