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With diabetes, it’s not unusual to feel tired all the time. Members of DiabetesTeam say fatigue is a constant companion, one that doesn’t go away with sleep, and that interferes with all aspects of daily life.
“I almost fell asleep at work last week. Regardless of how much sleep I get, I'm always tired,” lamented one member. “Lightbulb moment! I’m only 61 years old but exhausted all the time,” wrote another who was baffled by the symptom. “Just made the connection to diabetes - fatigue is a symptom. Now I don’t feel quite as wimpy.”
What Causes Diabetes Fatigue?
Members point to medications as one possible cause. “I wasn't this fatigued until I started on insulin,” shared one man. “My tiredness is from the meds I’m on. Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is the main one that causes me fatigue,” wrote another.
Blood sugar is another factor frequently cited by DiabetesTeam members. “Fatigue is a big one for us. Our energy levels are affected by our sugar levels,” suggested one. “I’ve been extremely fatigued and frustrated for several days because my sugar is higher than normal,” added another. “I think it's directly related.”
Diabetes Fatigue Busters
DiabetesTeam members also link post-meal energy slumps to blood sugar fluctuations. One man started “interval eating” to get off the blood-sugar rollercoaster. “I used to ‘crash’ at 2 p.m.,” he said. “Now, I eat either a meal or snack at regular intervals, three-to-four hours throughout the day. It helps to maintain and stabilize my energy.”
“There’s nothing worse than extreme fatigue in the afternoon,” agreed another member. “Snacks between meals really help, especially some type of protein, fruit or vegetable.”
Physical activity has reduced after-meal fatigue in some members. One man, who always felt sluggish after eating, started walking on his lunch break. “I‘ve been walking 45 minutes every day for the past six months and feel so much better. My numbers are great and exercise makes a difference.”
Even those who are “too fatigued to exercise,” admit that a little movement makes a big difference. “It’s hard to exercise when you just feel like laying down,” said one man on DiabetesTeam. “But once I started walking, the fatigue went away. It takes about 10 minutes before I feel better though.”
Member Energy Boosters
DiabetesTeam members also report energy boosts from alternative remedies. One woman, who tested low in B vitamins, now takes a B12 supplement. “It helps with energy most days, but every once in a while, I have days I want to do absolutely nothing,” she explained. Always talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
Other members sip ginseng tea or use essential oils when they feel depleted.
Getting Support for Diabetes Fatigue
“I really appreciate the discussions and suggestions others have for dealing with lack of sleep and a feeling of constant fatigue,” shared one member. “Diabetes drains you mentally and physically,” wrote another. “Stay strong and know there are a lot of us out there to help you.”
One member summed up the advice shared on DiabetesTeam: “Fatigue is a big downer for people with diabetes. Eat as healthy as you can, even though it isn't always easy - or what we want to eat. And stay active even when you don't feel like it.”
On DiabetesTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with diabetes, members talk about a range of personal experiences including coping with fatigue.
Here are some questions and answers about coping with fatigue:
Can you relate? Go to DiabetesTeam today and start - or join - the conversation. You'll be surprised how many others share similar stories.