The NHS has identified unexplained tiredness as one of the most common reasons why people will see their GP. While some fatigue can be expected, particularly for those with stressful jobs, children or changing sleeping schedules, continual or unexplained tiredness is concerning.
The past year has been a test of our wellbeing. The coronavirus is known to cause tiredness both during and after infection, but other changes during the civil emergency may have affected our mental wellbeing. Leading pharmaceutical manufacturer Pharma Nord has supplied data that reveals which UK city may be affected by fatigue the most.
Reviewing Google search data, the study shows how many people have searched for fatigue-related terms since December 2019. This reveals how fatigue concerns have changed throughout the year and during various lockdowns, and which UK city is most likely to ask Google for solutions to their tiredness-related problems. Here, we look at the results.
The end of the pandemic appears to be in sight. Recent vaccine developments spell out an exit from restrictions and a gradual return to normal life. However, the health effects of the coronavirus can last beyond the initial infectious period. The damage the virus causes to the body is being defined as long COVID. A study by King’s College London has already gathered data on 60,000 people reporting coronavirus symptoms up to three months after their initial infection. This is usually in the form of fatigue.
The search data reveals that this is a growing problem in the UK. The search term “COVID fatigue” has increased steadily all year, with UK residents searching for it now more than ever. In fact, searches for the term have increased by 317 per cent between the announcement of the first national lockdown on March 23rd and the end of November. Even more concerning is that searches for the term have almost doubled since the start of September.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK did dip temporarily in the summer, but the steady increase of people searching for “COVID fatigue” may represent the growing number of people who have been infected by the virus and are now experiencing the long-term effects. If fatigue is growing in the UK, is the coronavirus directly responsible?
The search data was divided by searches in different UK cities. This revealed which cities searched for fatigue-related terms the most. Dividing the results by population reveals which city has the highest percentage of people search for tiredness questions and cures.
Interestingly, Cornwall’s only city, Truro, has been deemed the UK’s most tired town. People in Truro were 276 per cent more likely to search for a fatigue-related term than the rest of the UK. These terms included “combat fatigue”, “insomnia”, and “lack of energy”. However, it is difficult to say if this is a reflection on the coronavirus. After all, the South West region currently has the fewest cases by population. What is causing tiredness in the county town of Truro is yet to be assessed. Truro was followed by Ely and Newry as the most tired cities in the UK.
On the flip side, Newport was reported as the least tired city in the UK. Newportonians were 53 per cent less likely to search for a tiredness-related term than the rest of the UK. People in the Welsh city searched for phrases related to tiredness causes and cures less than any other city in the UK. However, what maintains the energy of these people is not known.
|#||City||More tired than UK average|
|#||City||Less tired than UK average|
While searches for “COVID fatigue” continue to increase, searches for ways to “increase energy” showed a fair balance. However, the figures show one period of the year where fewer people were looking to cure their tiredness.
According to the data, searches for “increase energy” peaked in May, with similarly high searches in March, September and November. However, during August, searches for this term fell 37 per cent below the average this year. There are several factors which could explain why this has happened. First, coronavirus cases were at their lowest during the back end of summer. Also, social restrictions were at their most relaxed since the start of the pandemic, which may have contributed to lower stress levels.
Finally, the summer weather may have contributed to a higher quality of health. Sunlight directly contributes to our energy levels, particularly vitamin D. People in the UK are overall deficient in the vitamin in the winter, and a lack of vitamin D contributes to low energy and fatigue.
For those searching for solutions to tiredness, there are many options. Ensuring that you get enough sleep is essential, but limiting stress through relaxation and organisation can also be beneficial. Some supplements, including coenzyme Q10, have proven benefits in reducing fatigue. This is because coenzyme Q10 supports the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate, which helps with energy transfer inside cells.
Other fatigue-reducing techniques including cutting down on unhealthy food, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, and exercising more.
Fatigue is something that all of us will suffer from at one point in our lives, and this year has been a lesson in ensuring that we are healthy enough to continue with our day-to-day activities. Whether we look towards improving our energy levels through diet, exercise, relaxation or supplementary assistance, it’s vital that we remain in a fit and fighting condition until the pandemic is over. For people in Truro, when restrictions are lifted, maybe give Newport a visit and find out their secret to vitality.