Fatigue is described as an extreme physical and mental tiredness that does not go away with rest or sleep. Dizziness refers to lightheadedness, unsteadiness, or vertigo.
Both symptoms result from a number of health states and conditions, only some of which are serious.
In this article, we will describe 5 common causes of dizziness and fatigue. We also discuss associated symptoms, and what to do to relieve the symptoms.
What causes both dizziness and fatigue?
A wide variety of conditions can cause both dizziness and fatigue. Below are 5 of the most common causes of both symptoms.
1. Chronic fatigue syndrome
As indicated in the name, fatigue is the main symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue can be so severe that it creates difficulty in performing everyday tasks. This condition is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis.
In addition to fatigue and dizziness, a person with chronic fatigue syndrome may experience:
- sleep problems
- muscle pain or joint pain
- sore throat
- difficulty thinking, remembering, or concentrating
- a fast or irregular heartbeat
The symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe, and tend to worsen after exercise.
Hypoglycemia happens when the level of glucose in the blood drops below normal levels.
This condition commonly occurs in cases of insulin-dependent diabetes. People with this long-term condition do not properly process glucose, the body’s main energy source, and they require supplementation with insulin.
Symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycemia can vary from person to person. The symptoms tend to come on quickly and may include fatigue and dizziness.
People with hypoglycemia can also experience any combination of the following symptoms:
- being shaky or jittery
- excessive sweating
- blurred vision
- poor coordination
- trouble concentrating
- a fast or irregular heartbeat
People with severe hypoglycemia may be unable to eat or drink. They may experience seizures or convulsions and can even lose consciousness.
Severe hypoglycemia is dangerous and needs to be managed right away.
3. Iron-deficiency anemia
Iron helps to carry oxygen around the body, maintaining healthy cells and tissues.
A lack of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, which may cause dizziness and fatigue.
Other symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia can include:
- pale or yellow skin
- shortness of breath or chest pain
- rapid heartbeat
- a pounding or “whooshing” noise in the ears
- brittle nails or hair loss
People who are at risk of iron-deficiency anemia are:
- vegetarians or vegans
- pregnant women
- women who have heavy menstrual periods
- people who have lost a lot of blood
Underlying health conditions, such as peptic ulcer disease, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, can also increase the risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.
A concussion is a temporary brain injury, caused by a knock to the head. The injury can last a few days or weeks.
Symptoms usually appear within a few minutes of the impact, and can include:
- dizziness and fatigue
- nausea or vomiting
- memory loss
- balance problems
- mood swings
- blurred or doubled vision
A migraine is a type of throbbing, pounding headache that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Migraines can diminish a person’s ability to perform daily activities.
A migraine is often accompanied by symptoms such as:
- feeling sensitive to light and sound
- nausea and vomiting
A person may experience an “aura” immediately before their migraine begins.
A migraine can cause a person to:
- see flashes or spots of light
- have a sensation of tingling in the face or arms
- have trouble thinking and speaking
When should I see a doctor?
If you experience repeated episodes of dizziness and fatigue, you should speak to a doctor. You need to go to see a doctor if you suspect that you have a chronic illness, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or diabetes mellitus. These diseases require long-term management.
The symptoms below may indicate concussion. Immediately seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present after a head injury:
- memory problems
- a headache that will not go away
- continual vomiting
- changes in behavior
Treatment and prevention
In case of chronic fatigue syndrome, there is no cure or approved treatment, though some symptoms may be manageable.
Specialists tend to recommend habits that help to manage sleep problems. These habits are having a regular bedtime and removing TVs and computers from the bedroom. Gradual increases in exercise can also help with fatigue.
A doctor may recommend wearing support stockings, which can help with dizziness and light-headedness.
Because the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, there is no way to prevent it.
In people with diabetes mellitus, mild to moderate hypoglycemia is managed by consuming glucose. People can do this in many ways. Some people may consume four glucose tablets or a tube of glucose gel. Other people may prefer half a cup of fruit juice, or a tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup.
If a person with diabetes mellitus frequently needs to consume extra glucose, this shows that their condition is not being appropriately managed. Changes should be made to the dosage of insulin or other medications.
Severe hypoglycemia requires hospital treatment. People with diabetes mellitus are advised to eat regular meals and check their blood glucose levels frequently, to avoid hypoglycemia.
A doctor manages iron-deficiency anemia by increasing the person’s intake of iron, usually with supplements. To prevent iron-deficiency anemia, a diet rich in iron is recommended. Good sources of iron include:
- leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
Anyone with a concussion should get plenty of rest, and avoid mental activities and alcohol. Acetaminophen is recommended to manage associated headaches and is available for purchase over the counter.
The best treatments for migraines vary from person to person. Some people find relief by using painkillers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Other people may prefer antinausea medications. Prescription medications are also available.
Avoiding the factors that trigger migraines can help prevent their occurrence. These factors also vary but include stress, certain foods, and sleeping too much or too little.
Dizziness and fatigue are common symptoms of a range of conditions. In most cases, the underlying cause can be managed, either at home or by a doctor.
If the cause of simultaneous dizziness and fatigue is not identified, you need to consult a doctor.