How Diabetes Can Lead to Fatigue and Steps to Address It

It’s sometimes difficult to determine the exact reasons for fatigue. Many times, it occurs as a result of adrenal malfunction, or other dysregulation. Sometimes, however, it can even be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes.


Patients suffering from fatigue often have a number of root causes responsible for their condition. Some are environmental; many are lifestyle-oriented; and still others are the result of various medical conditions. The sort of exhausted state that most fatigued individuals routinely find themselves can even be caused as a result of diabetes. In fact, fatigue can often be one of the earliest signs that you have what is known as prediabetes.

What is Diabetes?

The term Diabetes actually refers to a group of conditions that all see patients struggling with insulin. For example, in Type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin, as the cells of the pancreas are prevented from doing so. In Type 2 diabetes, insulin can be made, but it is either not sufficient for the body’s needs, or the body loses the ability to properly utilize it. In either case, the end result is that glucose does not get to the cells of the body as it should.

That causes the glucose to remain in the blood, and leads to cell breakdown over time. The glucose in the blood, meanwhile, goes on to create havoc and damage to a number of vital systems: the nerves, the eyes, the heart, and the kidneys. Obviously, it is a condition that needs to be managed very carefully to prevent serious health complications.

How Does Diabetes Cause Fatigue?

Since the presence of diabetes makes the proper use of glucose all but impossible, the body has trouble receiving the fuel components it needs to make ATP in the mitochondria. The end result of all that is twofold: blood sugar levels are elevated, and the mitochondria are denied the fuel necessary to make the energy your cells need. Without that energy, your back will lack the very thing it needs to keep you alert and active.

Of course, diabetes has an even far-reaching impact on fatigue. Just consider the disease, if you will. People who suffer from diabetes are generally under a lot of stress as they try to manage their daily lives. Many lack the energy needed to perform simple tasks – let alone that which would be required for exercise. That leads to weight gain and even obesity. Many suffer from disease-related depression as well. And every single one of those effects can make you tired!

What Can You Do About This?

The important question then is what you can do to help your body deal with diabetes-related fatigue. Often times, the choices available to you are limited. However, there are steps you can take that can help you get a handle on the situation.

Consult with Your physician

This might seem so obvious that it need not be mentioned, but the fact is that many with prediabetes and even diabetes of the type 1 or type 2 varieties fail to follow their doctors’ advice. Here’s the thing though: you can’t solve this problem on your own. You need the advice and guidance of a medical professional to properly manage the disease. Plus, you may not even have a full understanding of every factor affecting your energy levels.

After all, diabetes patients are susceptible to heart disease and other cardiac issues that can also impact energy levels. It can impact your kidneys, and that too can cause tiredness. Moreover, diabetes does not even always result in fatigue. The best way for you to find out for sure if the diabetes is at fault is to rely on the knowledge that your doctor can make available.

Monitor Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, chances are you already do this. But if not, you need to. It is not only a recommended and essential part of any serious diabetes management program, but is also one of the best ways to track your fatigue. Low blood sugar levels will leave you tired. If it is low, then make sure that your meal plan is being adhered to and be sure to eat those snacks. Also check to be sure that you are on schedule with any medications.

Double Down on Diet and Movement

You have a diet plan to manage your condition. Use it! If it is designed properly, it will include exactly the types of foods and beverages you should be consuming to normalize blood sugar and prevent those kinds of sudden energy drops. If it seems inadequate, recheck it to ensure that you are getting the right nutrients at the right times during the day to prevent those crashes.

Exercise is important too. While you want to avoid overexertion, you also want to do something other than remain sedentary for long periods of time. Inactivity can make you just as fatigued as heavy exercise. Sitting is an especially harmful activity when it comes to fatigue, since it leads to inflammation. You can counter that by routinely getting up from your computer screen and moving around to keep the blood and muscles active.

The important thing to remember about all of this is that your condition does not mandate that you settle for being exhausted all the time. You have options that can help you to better manage your diabetes, while also addressing the fatigue that it can cause. Once you learn to use those options in a comprehensive diabetes management regimen, you can start to see the improved energy levels you need.

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