Does Diabetes make you feel tired?
If you have diabetes, you may often feel tired and exhausted. This is not surprising, as diabetes can affect your blood sugar levels, your sleep quality, your mood, and your overall health. In this article, I will explain why diabetes can cause fatigue and what you can do to prevent or manage it.
How does diabetes affect your blood sugar levels?
Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body produces and uses insulin, a hormone that helps your cells absorb glucose from the blood. Glucose is the main source of energy for your body and brain. When you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels can become too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Both of these situations can make you feel tired and weak.
Hyperglycemia occurs when your body does not produce enough insulin or does not use it effectively. This causes excess glucose to build up in your blood, which can damage your organs and nerves over time. Some of the symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
extreme hunger despite eating
unexplained weight loss
Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar levels drop below the normal range. This can happen if you take too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skip meals, exercise too much, or drink alcohol. Some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
Both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia can affect your energy levels and make you feel fatigued. To prevent these situations, you need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and follow your doctor’s advice on how to manage them.
How does diabetes affect your sleep quality?
Another reason why diabetes can make you tired is that it can interfere with your sleep quality. Sleep is essential for your physical and mental health, as it helps your body repair itself and recharge your energy. However, diabetes can cause various problems that can disrupt your sleep, such as:
Frequent urination. High blood sugar levels can make you urinate more often, especially at night. This can interrupt your sleep cycle and make you feel tired the next day.
Excessive thirst. High blood sugar levels can also make you feel thirsty all the time, which can make you drink more fluids before bed. This can also increase your need to urinate at night and affect your sleep quality.
Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. This can lower the oxygen levels in your blood and make you wake up gasping for air. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, as obesity, high blood pressure, and nerve damage can contribute to this condition. Sleep apnea can reduce your sleep quality and make you feel tired and sleepy during the day.
Restless legs syndrome. Restless legs syndrome is a condition that causes an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that makes you want to move them, especially at night. This can make it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing restless legs syndrome, as nerve damage, iron deficiency, and kidney problems can contribute to this condition. Restless legs syndrome can affect your sleep quality and make you feel tired and irritable.
To improve your sleep quality, you need to treat the underlying causes of your sleep problems and follow some good sleep habits, such as:
Keeping a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help your body adjust to a natural sleep rhythm and make you feel more refreshed.
Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. These substances can stimulate your nervous system and make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. Avoid consuming them in the evening or close to bedtime.
Creating a comfortable sleeping environment. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. You can use curtains, blinds, earplugs, fans, or air conditioners to block out any noise or light that may disturb your sleep. You can also use pillows, blankets, mattresses, or sheets that suit your preferences and needs.
Relaxing before bed. Engage in some relaxing activities before bed, such as reading, listening to music, meditating, or doing some gentle stretches. This can help you unwind and prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Avoiding screens before bed. The blue light from your phone, computer, TV, or other devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. This can make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. Avoid using these devices at least an hour before bed or use a blue light filter if you need to.
How does diabetes affect your mood?
Another reason why diabetes can make you tired is that it can affect your mood and mental health. Diabetes can be a stressful and challenging condition to live with, as it requires constant monitoring, medication, diet, and lifestyle changes. It can also increase your risk of developing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Some of the factors that can contribute to this include:
Feeling overwhelmed by the demands of managing diabetes
Feeling frustrated by the fluctuations in blood sugar levels
Feeling guilty or ashamed about having diabetes
Feeling isolated or unsupported by family, friends, or doctors
Feeling worried about the complications or consequences of diabetes
Having a history of trauma, abuse, or other mental health problems
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can cause fatigue, as they can affect your motivation, concentration, appetite, sleep, and energy levels. They can also make it harder for you to cope with diabetes and follow your treatment plan.
To improve your mood and mental health, you need to seek professional help and support from your doctor,. They can help you identify and address the causes of your emotional distress and provide you with appropriate treatment options, such as medication, therapy, or counseling. You can also benefit from joining a support group or reaching out to your family and friends for emotional support.
How does diabetes affect your overall health?
Another reason why diabetes can make you tired is that it can affect your overall health and well-being. Diabetes can increase your risk of developing various complications and conditions that can impair your physical function and quality of life. Some of these include:
Heart disease and stroke. Diabetes can damage your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This can increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue.
Kidney disease. Diabetes can damage your kidneys and affect their ability to filter waste and fluids from your blood. This can lead to kidney disease or failure, which can cause swelling, nausea, itching, and fatigue.
Nerve damage. Diabetes can damage your nerves and affect their ability to send signals to your brain and other parts of your body. This can lead to nerve damage or neuropathy, which can cause numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in your feet, legs, hands, or arms. Nerve damage can also affect your digestive system, bladder, sexual function, and blood pressure.
Eye damage. Diabetes can damage your eyes and affect your vision. This can lead to eye damage or retinopathy, which can cause blurred vision, floaters, flashes, or blindness. Eye damage can also increase your risk of developing glaucoma or cataracts, which can impair your vision and cause fatigue.
Skin infections. Diabetes can affect your skin and make it more prone to infections, such as fungal or bacterial infections. These can cause itching, redness, swelling, or pain in your skin. Skin infections can also affect your healing process and increase your risk of developing ulcers or gangrene.
To prevent these complications, you need to follow your doctor’s advice on how to control your blood sugar levels and manage your diabetes. You also need to have regular check-ups and screenings to monitor your health and detect any problems early. You may also need to take medications or undergo procedures to treat these complications if they occur.
Diabetes can make you tired for various reasons, such as changes in blood sugar levels, sleep problems, mood issues, and overall health complications. Fatigue can affect your ability to function and enjoy life. However, you can prevent or manage fatigue by following these tips:
Monitor and control your blood sugar levels
Improve your sleep quality
Seek doctor help and support for your mood and mental health
Prevent or treat any diabetes complications
Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, nutrition, and weight management
If you have diabetes and experience persistent or severe fatigue, you should talk to your doctor. They can help you find out the cause of your fatigue and provide you with appropriate treatment options.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456