Experts tell you how to fight tiredness caused by diabetes
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Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Fact-checked by Aditya Nar, B.Pharm, MSc. Public Health and Health Economics

As a diabetic, you’re asked to up your physical activity levels to lose weight and improve control of your blood sugar levels. However, when you actually motivate yourself and get out of bed early or want to enroll in that Yoga class, you realize you hardly have any energy for it. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Millions of others like you complain about the fatigue and lack of energy. In this article, we reveal some ways to fight this problem.

Diabetes-induced fatigue may be either acute or chronic: the acute type often varies from day to day and does not generally lead to any functional impairment. Fatigue that persistently affects the diabetic for at least six months is called chronic fatigue and is known to greatly affect normal functioning. [1]

If you’re a diabetic and have been suffering from a serious energy deficit, finding it difficult to perform even the simple daily tasks or feeling a persistent sense of dullness or depression, it’s time you began to find ways to fight diabetes-induced fatigue. [2]

Rule out other health issues:

Physical exhaustion of diabetes may be related to kidney impairment or fluctuations in testosterone levels, sleep disorders like apnea, or a result of depression. Diabetes complications such as hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, neuropathy or cardiac disease may also cause greater fatigue. [3]

One of the first things you must do is consult your physician about your complaints to rule out any such underlying cause. Doctors often have to deal with diabetics cribbing about their fatigue and may tend to write your concerns off. The best way to make sure that they hear you is to provide specific details of your problem such as when you feel most fatigued or any pattern you have noticed in its manifestation.

Eat healthy:

In a bid to keep glucose levels strictly in check, some diabetics tend to overdo the diet control. Bengaluru-based nutritionist Ranjani says that the fatigue such people experience could result from a lack of healthy and nutritious food. She advises, “Diabetics must increase their intake of protein and green leafy vegetables even as they cut down on refined carbohydrates because the latter provides only a very temporary energy rush.”

Try gentle exercise like yoga:

When you’re already suffering from fatigue, it’s impossible to find the energy to do anything beyond the bare minimum activity. Here, it’s important to remember that exercise need not always mean intense. Research shows that gentle exercising can reduce fatigue by close to 65%. Yoga expert and teacher Prof. Subramanian of S-VYASA University of Bengaluru explains, “We have seen diabetics benefit greatly from certain yogasanas. In some people, there is better control of blood glucose levels, and in others, stress reduces because of doing yoga; whatever the mechanism, we have noticed that the sense of fatigue automatically reduces.” Read tips on how diabetics can exercise safely.

Deal with emotional distress:

Dr. Vijaylakshmi, a consultant psychiatrist at Cadabam’s Hospitals, Bengaluru, draws attention to a new phenomenon increasingly seen in diabetics. “Diabetes burnout is the term used nowadays to describe the suffering of persons who have psychological disturbance because of having to manage and live with diabetes long-term. It’s like being stuck in a job you detest.” She advises that diabetics discuss this with their doctors and come up with ideas such as a responsible ‘diabetes-vacation.’ This could range from taking one night off each fortnight from the diabetic diet to rewarding yourself with a small helping of your favourite hot chocolate fudge after a month of sticking to your diet plan. (4)

When you are already feeling low, things can only get worse if you mentally beat yourself up for feeling the way you do. Use diabetes-induced fatigue as a wake-up call. Step back and take a long, hard look at how you’re dealing with your diabetes. Do you need to slow down and make more space for rest? Is your self-care plan too exhausting? Are you looking to meet unrealistic levels of glycemic control? Whatever the answer, be gentle with yourself as you try to figure your way out of diabetes-induced fatigue.

Photo Courtesy: Storyblocks

References:

[1] M.M. Goedendorp, C.J. Tack, E. Steggink, L. Bloot, E. Bazelmans, H. Knoop. Chronic Fatigue in Type 1 Diabetes: Highly Prevalent but Not Explained by Hyperglycemia or Glucose Variability. Diabetes Care; 2014; 37; 73-80; DOI: 10.2337/dc13-0515

[2] Extreme Tiredness(Fatigue). Diabetes.co.uk.

[3] C. Fritschi, L. Quinn. Fatigue in patients with diabetes: A Review. J Psychosom Res.2010; 69(1); 33-41; DOI  10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.01.021

[4] Low-intensity Exercise Reduces Fatigue Symptoms By 65 Percent, Study Finds. University of Georgia.  ScienceDaily; 2008. Retrived on: 10.10.2017; Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228112008.html

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for patient awareness only. This has been written by qualified experts and scientifically validated by them. Wellthy or it’s partners/subsidiaries shall not be responsible for the content provided by these experts. This article is not a replacement for a doctor’s advice. Please always check with your doctor before trying anything suggested on this article/website.

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