It’s a common complaint I hear from many patients when they first come to me – they say they’re tired, worn out, have little to no energy or they’re simply “dragging.” Feeling tired occasionally is typically nothing to worry about, but when it becomes chronic, your fatigue may be the sign of a more serious, underlying problem.
Chronic fatigue is unresolved by sleep – and it’s our body’s way of telling us something is amiss. Getting to the root of and treating chronic fatigue can have a profound effect in helping you to restore energy levels and get back to enjoying life. Here are six common reasons you might be tired and what to do about it.
More than 20 million Americans – most of them women – have some level of thyroid dysfunction, and many of themt don’t even know it! An underactive thyroid slows your metabolism and generally depresses the entire body, making you feel tired and sluggish. Thyroid replacement therapy may help to correct this imbalance and get energy levels back to normal. To accurately diagnose and treat an underlying thyroid issue, it’s important to get proper lab testing.
Our adrenal glands regulate cortisol levels, which in turn helps our bodies to wake up in the morning, sustain energy throughout the day, and sleep at night. However, if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, you may notice morning and mid-afternoon fatigue, have trouble falling asleep at night, or be unable to stay asleep. Adrenal fatigue is typically brought on by any stressful event, whether it’s internal – such as an underlying infection – or external, such as the death of a loved one. Ongoing stress from demanding work schedules, lack of sleep, excessive caffeine intake and a poor diet can also contribute to adrenal fatigue. Treating the adrenals takes time but can restore proper circadian rhythms, energy and sleep.
Do you find yourself yawning or needing to take naps after meals? You may be sensitive to the food you’re eating! Gluten and dairy are two of the most common food allergens, and many people are unaware that they might be sensitive to these and other foods. Try an elimination diet to see whether avoiding certain foods alleviates your fatigue, or talk to your doctor or health practitioner about getting a food sensitivity test.
Sugar and Caffeine
A typical American diet – which contains large amounts of refined sugar and caffeine – disrupts our bodies’ ability to maintain homeostasis by interfering with adrenal function. So while that cup of Joe may perk you up in the morning, over time you may feel unable to “get going” without it. And reaching for a 3 p.m. energy bar loaded with refined sugar will only lead to the inevitable “crash” in an hour or two. Try slowly cutting back on both sugar and caffeine and improving your diet to get a natural energy high. Eating a diet high in good quality protein and low in sugar will help keep blood sugar stable which often leads to a great natural energy boost.
If your diet is less than optimal, chances are you may suffer from one or more vitamin deficiencies. Low levels of B-12, Vitamin D, magnesium</a>, iron and ferritin can all lead to feelings of sluggishness. While improving your diet and eliminating foods to which you’re sensitive can help, in some cases you may need to supplement to achieve optimal vitamin levels.
Chronic Infections and Viruses
If you’ve addressed many of the issues I mentioned above and still suffer from ongoing fatigue, it’s time to take a look at other possible causes. Chronic infections, such as Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, autoimmune diseases, viruses including Epstein-Barr (the virus that causes Mono), may be at the root of more serious, prolonged bouts of chronic fatigue. Talk to your doctor about getting properly tested to rule out these and other illnesses.
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