Fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. It can be physical, mental or both, and might be experienced alongside other symptoms like depression and drowsiness. When we’re fatigued, we might also have trouble concentrating and have a sense of apathy (a lack of interest, concern, or enthusiasm for what happens).
In this post, we’ll look at potential reasons that we might experience fatigue and when it might be a cause for concern – including a potential link to leukaemia.
Normal fatigue vs extreme fatigue
Fatigue can be very unpleasant but normally has a root cause that we can address. This might be physical overexertion, lack of sleep, stress at work or at home or an underlying medical condition that we’re already aware of. If your fatigue improves with proper rest and hydration, then it’s likely nothing to be concerned about.
Extreme fatigue, on the other hand, doesn’t have an obvious root cause. It doesn’t get better with lifestyle changes and could be an indicator of a more serious health problem.
Extreme fatigue is a symptom associated with leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
The connection between leukaemia and fatigue
Leukaemia is a type of cancer affecting the blood and bone marrow. It leads to the over-production of abnormal white blood cells.
As leukaemia cells multiply uncontrollably, they crowd out healthy blood cells, leading to a decrease in red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to our body's tissues. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including extreme fatigue.
When should you worry about extreme fatigue?
Along with extreme fatigue, leukaemia also has other commons symptoms. These include:
- Unexplained bruising: leukaemia can affect platelet production, which is responsible for blood clotting. This can result in bruises that seem to appear without reason, often in usual places like the back of the legs, back and armpits. It can also cause unusual bleeding, like nose bleeds, bleeding gums and very heavy periods
- Frequent infections: leukaemia weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections, colds, flu and ear infections
If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue alongside other symptoms like unexplained bruising or bleeding and frequent infections, it’s something worth taking note of and getting checked out with your GP or healthcare practitioner.
What to do if you’re worried about extreme fatigue?
If you’re experiencing debilitating extreme fatigue that you can’t explain, especially if accompanied by other common leukaemia symptoms, you should contact your GP and ask for a blood test immediately.
Early detection and proper and timely care saves lives when it comes to leukaemia, so it’s vital to address any concerns you’ve got as soon as possible.
Find your local GP.
Find out more about other leukaemia symptoms.