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Research published in the journal Diabetes Care shows a significant association between chronic fatigue-defined as serious tiredness lasting for at least six months-and a type 1 diagnosis. According to scientists, some 40 percent of people with diabetes in the study had the condition, while only 7 percent of a control group did.
"The clinical message is that the prevalence of chronic fatigue is high in diabetes and is burdensome for patient," said Hans Knoop, of the Expert Center for Chronic Fatigue at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, the Netherlands, one of the study's authors.
"It is important to assess it, discuss it with patients, and, more important, to develop interventions. Our study indicates that behavioral interventions could be useful in the treatment of fatigue in diabetes, which we will determine in subsequent studies."
Interestingly enough, the study did not find a tight correspondence between blood glucose levels and whether patients were fatigued. Type 1s who were also dealing with depression or complications from their disease were more likely to be dealing with chronic fatigue, though.
While that was bad news for the researchers-they had hypothesized a link between blood sugar levels and fatigue-it was good news for patients. And that's because behavioral interventions, such as becoming more physically active, can help people get more and better rest.
"We think that the diabetes itself and its (medical) consequences can trigger fatigue. Once the fatigue is triggered, other factors step in and can perpetuate the symptom. Examples of these factors are sleep problems or a lowered level of activity," Knoop said.
As most people with diabetes know, their disease affects far more than the pancreas. It can cause some sleepless nights, too. This study gives us more evidence. And given the extra health problems that go along with a lack of sleep, figuring out how to get more shut-eye is crucial.