Many studies highlight the prevalence of chronic fatigue for patients diagnosed with both Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, with individuals often ranking tiredness in the top five of the most commonly reported symptoms. Although a clear cause is yet to be established, it is understood that diabetes creates several pathways for the symptoms of chronic fatigue to present themselves.
It is important to note the distinction between the symptoms of fatigue felt as a result of daily life and the symptoms of chronic, or pathological, fatigue. Many people feel the impact of everyday fatigue as a result of significant physical or mental exertion, disruptions to sleep, and other common stressors. The symptoms of chronic fatigue, on the other hand, continue well after an individual has rested for the recommended length of time and are associated with diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and diabetes.
The causes of chronic fatigue in individuals with diabetes are considered to be multidimensional and are impacted by physiological, psychological and lifestyle factors.
Physiological factors include acute hyper/hypoglycemia (high and low blood sugar respectively), glucose variability and chronic hyperglycemia. High blood glucose, in particular, slows the circulation of blood around the body, making it difficult for cells to get the oxygen and nutrients they need to provide the body with adequate energy.
Psychologically, the symptoms of chronic fatigue often associated with depression may display themselves following a diagnosis of diabetes. Further, lifestyle factors including an increase in Body Mass Index and a significant reduction in physical activity may contribute to the individual’s diagnosis of chronic fatigue.
Cognitive behavior therapies have proven to show a statistically significant impact on the reduction of the symptoms of chronic fatigue on individuals diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. However, the importance of a well-maintained self-care routine should not be underestimated.