Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/26/2020
Tiredness. No amount of adult preparatory classes could have readied any of us for this experience.
It's the reason you substitute an afternoon at the gym for beers in bed and Netflix, and why the suggestion of plans after 10 p.m. is enough reason to end a friendship.
However, when tiredness switches from being the end result of an exerting day to becoming a daily, constant companion, it could be a sign of something more serious at play.
Low energy in men goes beyond needing coffee to power through the day after staying up late. It is a persistent and unrelenting feeling of mental and physical tiredness, brought on by medical and lifestyle factors — some unique to men, which can have serious implications.
Because tiredness can come with the territory of being a mobile, working man, it can be difficult to differentiate mere tiredness from chronic fatigue. Here are symptoms of fatigue that could spell trouble in men’s health:
If you experience overwhelming exhaustion — you know, the kind that doesn’t let up, no matter how many times your sleep tracker congratulates you for meeting your target, there just might be something more serious at stake.
Fatigue can make completing the most mundane tasks difficult. It causes great difficulty in completing daily tasks and cannot be relieved by rest. If you find yourself fighting through a cloud of exhaustion on a regular basis, you might be dealing with fatigue
Weakness all over
Lack of motivation
Fatigue can make completing the most mundane tasks, difficulty. It causes great difficulty in completing daily tasks and cannot be relieved by rest. If you frequently find yourself battling a cloud of exhaustion on a regular basis, you might be dealing with fatigue
A number of physical and mental conditions are leading causes of low energy in men. Some of these include:
Testosterone is your friendly neighborhood hormone responsible for things like the deepening voices at puberty, maintaining bone density, muscle mass, sex drive as well as the production of red blood cells and sperm.
Typically, men produce less testosterone as they age (roughly one percent less per year after around age 30), but when a significant drop in the body's testosterone level occurs, this can spell trouble.
Things like reduced libido, depressive moods, decreased energy and, notably, increased fatigue, are just some of the symptoms caused by low testosterone.
A blood test can determine whether or not testosterone levels are low. If your testosterone levels are low, discussions with a healthcare professional should be had to determine causes and treatments.
Low testosterone can be treated with things like intramuscular formulations, skin patches, solutions and topical gels.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing the thyroid hormone. This hormone is responsible for helping regulate the body's metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, as well as muscle control, mood, bone marrow health etc.
Where the gland isn't producing hormones optimally, it can spell double jeopardy for your well being.
Hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormones, can slow down metabolism, which may cause exhaustion, weakness and fatigue. It is commonly caused by a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Even though women are two to 10 times more likely than men to develop hyperthyroidism — the overproduction of the thyroid hormone — its symptoms, which include things like trouble sleeping, nervousness, irritability, shaky hands, rapid/irregular heartbeat and mood swings can lead to chronic fatigue.
Drugs like levothyroxine can be used to supplement the body's production of the thyroid hormone in hypothyroidism. While hyperthyroidism can be countered with antithyroid medicines, causing the thyroid to produce less hormones.
Raise your hand if you’ve attempted “a little” work before bed, only to fall asleep right before your alarm goes off. Or skipped sleep altogether because hey, a deadline is a deadline.
Perhaps you even get enough sleep, but somehow wake up tired. Maybe sometimes, simply falling asleep is hard work for you.
To discover the causes of fatigue, fingers quickly point to not getting enough sleep, no sleep or low quality sleep where left untreated for long.
One sleep difficulty in particular — sleep apnea can have you running out of gas while performing your daily activities.
Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is obstructed during sleep. It can lead to loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep and excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
Treating this first requires a medical diagnosis before recommendations can be made. These recommendations can include a breathing device like a CPAP machine or lifestyle changes like weight loss and quitting smoking.
Other sleeping issues can be solved by aiming for a minimum seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Ditching electronic devices around bedtime, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and sleeping in a dark room can greatly improve the quality of sleep you get at night.
Skipping breakfast and making up for it with excess caffeine, or snacking throughout the day to finish with a carb-heavy meal at night, might read like the nutrition playbook of most working men.
However, a poor diet can be rough on your body’s energy levels.
While caffeine can provide an energy boost, fatigue can lie in its wake after it wears off. Ditto for sugary snacks and processed carbohydrates like white bread or pasta. These can boost energy levels, but with the downside of possibly causing fatigue when sugar levels drop.
Consuming a balanced diet filled with energy-giving nutrients like proteins contained in poultry, fish, meat, etc., and carbohydrates found in whole grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes provide the body with energy, which can help to keep fatigue at bay.
If your day is constantly plagued with tiredness, coupled with headaches and dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, a sore tongue or mouth and a noticeable paleness to your skin, you might be suffering from iron deficiency anemia.
Iron is an important nutrient necessary for the production of hemoglobin — a protein needed by your red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. With anemia, the body doesn't get the right amount of oxygen it needs.
Even though iron deficiencies more commonly affect women, men are also susceptible.
An iron deficiency can be caused by inadequate iron intake, internal bleeding or the inability to absorb iron.
To diagnose it, your healthcare provider may administer blood tests. If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, some treatment options include iron supplements and daily intake of iron rich foods.
It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan, recommendations and follow up. To treat it, iron supplements and consuming foods rich in iron like red meat, dark green leafy vegetables etc.
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Though a mental health disorder, its symptoms can also physically manifest with severe fatigue being a major red flag.
Low energy is a prevalent symptom of depression.
In a study conducted on 81 people, as many as 90 percent of the subjects reported severe fatigue, despite 80 percent of said subjects being on antidepressants.
Research has shown that fatigue is an ever present symptom of depression. A European study spanning six countries and 1884 participants revealed 73 percent of them experiencing fatigue as a common feature of their depression.
Combined with other symptoms like apathy, lack of concentration and anxiety, this could very negatively impact daily productivity and well being.
Depression is, however, a treatable condition, with counseling and medication being widely available.
Though there is sparse data on specifically treating the fatigue-related symptoms of depression, where persistent feelings of low energy are tied to depression, professional help should be sought.
Fatigue is a frequent complaint of diabetes patients, and can affect persons suffering from either type of diabetes. To understand why, here's a little diabetes 101:
When a person suffers from diabetes, their body's ability to use and regulate sugar is affected.
Where normally, food is broken into simple sugars or glucose after eating, to be absorbed by the cells of the body. With diabetes patients, insulin, which is required to absorb glucose from the blood, is not produced or used optimally.
This usually results in a build up of glucose in the blood without the cells being able to adequately access it for energy.
This build-up of blood sugar is usually fingered as a cause of fatigue in diabetes, but there is little research to support it.
Research indicates that glucose may play a role in diabetes-related fatigue, however. In a 2003 study, researchers observed 36 adults with type 2 diabetes and measured their blood glucose levels for three to four weeks and found that fatigue was positively correlated with blood glucose levels.
Type 1 and 2 diabetes can be treated with professional help that ensures regulated blood sugar levels and diabetes medication. Type 2 diabetes can also be treated by healthy lifestyle changes to weight and diet.
Heart disease is one of the leading health risks faced by men. In 2017 alone, about one in four male deaths in the U.S. was caused by some form of heart disease.
These include ailments like coronary heart diseases, blood vessel diseases, heart defects and heart attacks.
If that isn’t worrying enough, despite how deadly heart disease is, it is characterized by easy-to-miss symptoms which become apparent when signs of a heart attack, heart failure or an arrhythmia take hold.
A common symptom of heart disease, however, is chronic fatigue. It is evident in ailments like heart failures, arrhythmias, heart attacks etc.
Though deadly, heart disease doesn’t have to be fatal, which is why common symptoms like recurring, unexplained tiredness should be brought to a health professional’s attention.
As if sneezing and wheezing when allergies strike aren't bad enough, most allergies are often compounded by fatigue, which when added together, make the perfect recipe for a terrible couple of days or weeks at work.
When your body has allergies, it releases chemicals like histamines which boost blood to the area affected by the allergen, leading to inflammation This inflammation in turn produces substances like the proteins cytokines.
In executing their allergen-fighting role, cytokines are largely responsible for inducing flu- and cold-like symptoms like sneezing, running nose and fatigue usually present during allergies.
Even though anti-allergy medications like Benadryl® can cause fatigue during allergy season, opting for non-drowsy antihistamines can help in fighting allergies and allergy-induced fatigue.
When it comes to low energy, any number of things can be at play — poor sleep quality, diabetes, depression etc. But in rare cases, persistent, month-long fatigue can be an indicative of a serious condition: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
CFS or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a truly complex illness.
It has no definitive cause, although infections, hormonal problems, psychiatric problems and immunological problems have been proposed.
Without a universally accepted diagnosis, its symptoms include around 6 months of incapacitating exhaustion, poor stamina, concentration issues and short-term memory loss.
Its symptoms are not relieved by sleep or rest and can be worsened in a condition known as Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM). With PEM, even minor physical activities like taking a shower can have the sufferer bed or housebound for a number of days or even weeks.
Though more common in women than men, at least one million people are affected by CFS in the US. Compounding its complexity, there is no test to determine its diagnosis and doctors have to carry out a series of evaluations to arrive at one. Its treatment is also based on expert recommendations, if you find that you display symptoms of CFS, be sure to contact a doctor for diagnosis and personalized treatment.
We’ve established that fatigue can lead to a lack of motivation, and the perpetual need to lay starfish in bed.
To treat this, we can examine the causes of fatigue to identify simple lifestyle changes that can treat it.
These treatments and lifestyle changes for low energy include:
The instant gratification from high-sugar, overly-processed foods can pale in comparison to drop in energy this diet can dish out.
High-sugar diets may come with an energy spike, but this spike can leave you drained when it ultimately drops.
Eating small, frequent meals.high in vegetables, whole grains and proteins can help in improving energy levels.
Yes, there is some irony in recommending energy-dependent exercise to combat fatigue. However, exercise is excellent for increasing adrenaline and energy levels.
It’s also important to note that energy levels suffer, following a break from exercising. This can cause muscles to become weak, leading to fatigue.
However, it’s important to observe moderate exercise routines, as excessive physical exercise can also lead to fatigue.
Laying off the sauce just might bring your energy levels up.
While alcohol has accepted sedative qualities, its effect can hamper the quality of sleep. It has been known to cause insomnia and a relaxation of the throat muscles, which can lead to breathing problems which disrupt sleep. This inevitably affects energy levels.
Likewise, alcohol can have a drowsy effect, a recipe for extended fatigue when energy levels are already low.
By reducing alcohol intake to a minimum, or substituting for water, this can help in preventing fatigue.
To treat fatigue, getting adequate sleep is usually a no-brainer remedy.
However, the quality of sleep can be just as important as the amount you get.
Good sleeping habits, like getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night, limiting midday naps and keeping a regular bedtime can help in increasing energy levels.
Low energy can hit stop or cause you to carry on with life and your daily activities at a much slower pace than necessary. By being able to identify the causes and getting the required assistance to overcome it, low energy can soon become relegated to your past.
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