Why Your Fatigue Might Be More Serious Than You Think

A late-night spent studying, working the night shift, or a change in time zones can all lead to feelings of sleepiness. With some rest and recuperation, you'll likely bounce back the next day. Unlike sleepiness, however, rest isn't enough to alleviate the persistent and ongoing feelings of exhaustion that make up fatigue (via the Mayo Clinic). While fatigue can be physical, mental, or a combination of the two, all forms of fatigue produce continuous feelings of weariness that can impact one's ability to function, and in some cases, can even pose a safety risk (via MedicalNewsToday).

According to a 2017 survey issued by the National Safety Council (NSC), 97% of adults in the U.S. report experiencing 1 or more of 9 major work-related risk factors for fatigue, including long commute times and working over 50 hours a week (via Compliance Signs). Aside from the occasional rough night's sleep, fatigue can also occur as a result of certain health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, thyroid conditions, pregnancy, as well as from the use of certain medications (via MedicalNewsToday) — but did you know that fatigue can also be a sign of a potentially serious mineral deficiency?

Fatigue may be a sign of an iron deficiency

If you're experiencing ongoing feelings of fatigue, it may be a sign of an iron deficiency. "Fatigue is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency because it means your body is having trouble carrying the oxygen to your cells so it's affecting your energy levels," Bethany Thayer, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System, told Everyday Health. As a result, insufficient levels of iron in the blood can result in feelings of weakness and sluggishness.

Should iron deficiency develop into a health condition known as iron deficiency anemia, one may experience extreme fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin, and cold extremities, amongst other symptoms (via the Mayo Clinic). Your fatigue may also be more serious if it's lasting longer than 1-2 weeks, in which case you should schedule a visit with your doctor (via Harvard Medical School). When doing so, ask your physician about having your iron levels checked (via Everyday Health). According to the Mayo Clinic, while taking iron supplements may seem like a quick at-home remedy, do not attempt to treat yourself. Those with iron deficiency anemia can inflict damage to the liver if supplements are taken in excess.