Fatigue is a very common complaint I often hear from patients. It is also one of the vaguest symptom to work with as fatigue could mean a whole host of things.
The most common reasons for feeling tired could be that you are not getting enough sleep or you have poor dietary habits. Diet high in processed foods and carbohydrates can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate wildly, giving you highs and lows in energy. These foods are also empty calories providing no nutritional value.
Most of the time your fatigue can be traced to one or more of your habits or routines. Having ruled those out, here are some common health culprits that could be the underlying the cause to your constant tiredness.
A very common cause of fatigue, it is a condition where your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. There are two common types of anemia, iron deficiency anemia and B12 deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is particularly a problem for women, especially those who have heavy menstrual periods. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is common in vegetarians, or individuals who have inflammatory bowel disease. Have a your healthcare provider run a CBC (complete blood count), ferritin, and serum B12 to rule out anemia.
Your thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your throat that influences virtually every tissue and organ in the body and an over and under-active thyroid can result in low energy. Aside from fatigue, if you have changes to your weight, skin, bowel habits or have hot/cold sensitivity these could also be signs of a thyroid issues. A simple blood test for your level of thyroid-stimulating hormone can be the first step to help evaluate your thyroid function.
Adrenal what? Your adrenals are also known as the stress glands. They are two tiny glands (the size of a grape) that sit just on top of each of your kidneys and produce various stress hormones such as your adrenaline hormone, cortisol, DHEA that allow you to respond to stress. Chronic stress (whether it is physical, mental or emotional) can place a lot of demand on the adrenals to the point where they get exhausted or depleted, and feeling exhausted or chronically tired is classic sign of adrenal fatigue.
Food sensitivity is different than food allergies. Food sensitivity, is also known as delayed food allergy and although the reaction is not as immediate or severe it can cause chronic health issues including leaving you feeling chronically tired. The most common culprits are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and nuts. If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity, consider doing an elimination diet for 4-6 weeks, then reintroduce the eliminated foods one at time, three days apart and observe your body’s reactions. You can also work with your healthcare provider and consider getting an IgG food sensitivity testing.
These are just a few common causes of fatigue — there are many other reasons why your energy levels may be low. Start with the basics: your sleep, your diet, and your activity level. Sometimes the simplest fixes are all it takes. If you are still tired it is important to work with a healthcare provider to look for the cause.