Common Hidden and Invisible Illnesses Explained – Please share to raise awareness

If you saw a person in a wheelchair or on crutches struggling to move, would you accuse them of milking it for attention? Not unless you were a truly malign, cold-hearted individual. If you saw a seemingly healthy person climbing out of a car that’s just been parked in a disabled parking spot, would you accost them and insist that they park elsewhere? Quite possibly, but before you do, it’s worth taking the time to consider whether that person actually does need the spot, even though they seem healthy.

There’s a little insight into the world of the hidden illness sufferer. Aside from the crippling physical pain they courageously endure on a daily basis, there’s also the frustration and torment of unsympathetic observers who take their exterior appearance at face value and believe that there’s nothing wrong. It doesn’t have to be a physical illness, either. Depression is also classified as a hidden illness, as it is a medical condition which might be highly concealed but has an enormously damaging impact on a person’s day-to-day life.

For people living with hidden illnesses, a basic degree of understanding and empathy from others is greatly appreciated. If you hear someone saying profusely that they’re feeling unwell, don’t just brush their words aside as the attention-seeking whines of a serial complainer. Ask them if there is anything you can do to make them feel a bit better. A person without a chronic illness just does not know the extent of the suffering of those with such illnesses.

This infographic from Burning Nights neatly summarises 10 of the most common hidden illnesses so that we can all obtain a small level of understanding. This include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, depression, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Lyme disease, Lupus and CRPS. Maybe the next time we see a seemingly healthy person occupying a handicapped parking space, we won’t be so hasty in our judgement.

Common Hidden Illnesses Explained [Infographic]

Fatigue – 10 medical reasons for feeling tired

Treatments for Fatigue

Any serious illness, especially painful ones, can make you tired. But some quite minor illnesses can also leave you feeling washed out. Here are 10 health conditions that are known to cause fatigue.

1. Coeliac disease

This is a type of food intolerance, where your body reacts badly when you eat gluten – a substance found in bread, cakes and cereals. One in 100 people in the UK are affected, but research suggests that up to 90% of them don’t know they have the condition, according to patient group Coeliac UK. Other symptoms of coeliac disease, apart from tiredness, are diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss. Your GP can check if you have coeliac disease through a blood test.

Read more about coeliac disease.

2. Anaemia

One of the most common medical reasons for feeling constantly run down is iron deficiency anaemia. It affects around one in 20 men and post-menopausal women, but may be even more common in women who are still having periods.

Typically, you’ll feel you can’t be bothered to do anything, your muscles will feel heavy and you’ll get tired very quickly. Women with heavy periods and pregnant women are especially prone to anaemia.

Read more about iron deficiency anaemia.

3. Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME) is a severe and disabling tiredness that goes on for at least six months. There are usually other symptoms, such as a sore throat, muscle or joint pain and headache.

Read more about chronic fatigue syndrome.

4. Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a condition where your throat narrows or closes during sleep and repeatedly interrupts your breathing. This results in bad snoring and a drop in your blood’s oxygen levels. The difficulty in breathing means that you wake up often in the night, and feel exhausted the next day.

It’s most common in overweight, middle-aged men. Drinking alcohol and smoking makes it worse.

Read more about sleep apnoea.

5. Underactive thyroid

An underactive thyroid gland means that you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired. You’re also likely to put on weight and have aching muscles. It’s most common in women, and it happens more often as you get older.

Your GP can diagnose an underactive thyroid by taking a blood test.

Read more about having an underactive thyroid.

6. Diabetes

One of the main symptoms of diabetes, a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood, is feeling very tired. The other key symptoms are feeling very thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and weight loss. Your GP can diagnose diabetes with a blood test.

Read more about diabetes and find out how to make smart sugar swaps.

Find your local diabetes support services.

7. Glandular fever

Glandular fever is a common viral infection that causes fatigue, along with fever, sore throat and swollen glands. Most cases happen in teenagers and young adults. Symptoms usually clear up within four to six weeks, but the fatigue can linger for several more months.

Read more about glandular fever.

8. Depression

As well as making you feel very sad, depression can also make you feel drained of energy. It can stop you falling asleep or cause you to wake up early in the morning, which makes you feel more tired during the day.

Read more about depression.

Find your local depression support services and your local depression self-help groups.

9. Restless legs

This is when you get uncomfortable sensations in your legs, which keep you awake at night. You might have an overwhelming urge to keep moving your legs, a deep ache in your legs, or your legs might jerk spontaneously through the night. Whatever your symptoms, your sleep will be disrupted and of poor quality, so you’ll feel very tired throughout the day.

Read more about restless legs.

10. Anxiety

Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, some people have constant, uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, which are so strong they affect their daily life. Doctors call this generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). It affects around around one in 20 people in the UK. As well as feeling worried and irritable, people with GAD often feel tired.

Read more about anxiety.

Find your local anxiety support services.



This video may be of interest

Did you know that up to 40% of medial diagnoses are wrong? Find out the most common mistakes here.

Nobody wants it to happen. But wrong diagnosis is much more common than we are lead to believe.

According to this infographic up to 40 of medical diagnosis are wrong. It looks at various conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lupus, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, hydrocephalus, aortic dissection and hypothyroidism. It also has a very useful brief guide to the early symptoms of each condition.

Have you ever been misdiagnosed? What ever response you might be interest in taking our poll on the misdiagnosis of a medical condition here.

Thanks very much.

The Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses

From Visually.

Cognitive dysfunction – Does the cold weather make your brain fog or fibro fog better or worse? Join in our discussion blog

Cognitive dysfunction (also called brain fog , fibro fog or clouding of consciousness) was a big topic in the early days of Patient Talk.

Brain fog
Brain fog

And at the same time we were also interested in the impact of the reasons ( and the weather) on pain levels. You can see the results of our poll on the subject here.

So I was very interested when Kelly asked “Since the weather has changed to cold, my cognitive function is getting way worse, where I can’t get words out of mouth. Does anyone else experience this the cold?” in our Multiple Sclerosis group yesterday morning.

The feedback was very interesting.

Tracet replied “Yes. Does anyone else have trouble getting people to understand this happens to you? I think people are starting to assume I’m just an idiot, even after explaining cognitive dysfunction.”

For Roberto it is the other way round ” I experience this but it happens when the weather gets warm”.

” Definitely far worse with the cold, I like the heat, thought I was strange as the ‘norm’ is the opposite. I practise Bikram Yoga in the heat which helps me a lot, my neurologist freaked when I told her, but now she thinks its wonderful!” was Brendan’s suggestion.

But for Kristine “I love all the seasons. snow and sun are both fun! Humidity is my killer…”.

No the other hand for Charlene ” For me it is the extreme weather. Extreme cold and heat both make it worse. Of course extreme is a relative term! Lol extreme heat is like 80 and extreme cold is like below 45. Lol”.

But for some ” Doesn’t matter what season it is my mind is one purr muddle I nix up words loose train if thought an forgot what a conversation is I stair in to space like no one is home …but hay I can’t argue with anyone as I forget what has made me mad !!! The joys hay”

So what about you?

It would be great if you could take the poll below. Even better could you share your story in the comments section below.

Cognitive dysfunction refers to the loss of intellectual functions such as reasoning, memory , and general thinking which together impair day to day living.. People with brain fog have difficulty with verbal recall, basic arithmetic, and overall concentration.

It can be caused by a variety of medical conditions which include multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia (hence the term fibro fog), lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, hypothyroidism, Lyme’s disease and stress. What is interesting , at least to me, is how many of these disorders are auto-immune conditions.

Many thanks in advance for all your help!

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Is there a connection? Take our updated poll


Sounds an odd question given that fatigue is one of the severest symptoms of fibromyalgia.

In fact today we are looking at it from another way and would love your help.

The objective of this blog post is explore not fatigue as simply a symptom of fibro but to find out how many people suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (and/or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis).

There seems to be three schools of thought from healthcare professionals. A small minority ( and thankfully getting smaller) who do not think either condition exists. A group who believe that in fact they are exactly the same and yet another who will accepting similar symptoms think they are separate medical conditions.

And fibro is seen as pain based while CFS looks at fatigue.

That being said there is a huge amount of social media output which links CFS and Fibromyalgia. So I have a question for my readers. How many of you have who have been diagnosed with one of the conditions have also been diagnosed with the other?

To help us find out more please take part in the poll below.

Obviously straight diagnostic reporting does not give us the entire picture so please share anything you think would be of interest with our readers in the comments section below. For example if you are a person with fibro do you think your symptoms also match say Myalgic Encephalomyelitis but have not been diagnosed etc.

Everything you have to say if of great interest to please do take part.

Many thanks in advance!