Fatigue: A Symptom You Can't Afford to Ignore

Sleepiness

It seems that everyone is busy and overscheduled anymore, so it is not surprising to hear someone say, "I'm tired." We tend to think that it is normal to be exhausted all the time, but fatigue is our body's way of telling us that something is wrong. Read on to find out some possible causes of fatigue, and how to know if one of them is ailing you.

Iron deficiency anemia is very common, particularly among women of childbearing age. Women this age often have children, so they don't think twice when they are tired, because most people with children are tired. However, if you are anemic and you increase your body's iron stores, you will see a significant increase in energy, so it is worth looking into. Other high risk factors for iron deficiency anemia include:  consuming a diet with little to no red meat, consuming a high fiber diet (fiber can interfere with your body's absorption of iron), internal bleeding, gastric bypass surgery (surgery interferes with the body's ability to absorb iron), and pregnancy. In addition to fatigue, symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include shortness of breath, dizziness, pallor, and cold feet and hands. If you think you might be suffering from iron deficiency anemia, see your doctor for a blood test.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormones. When this happens, it can cause feelings of fatigue and weakness. It can also cause depression, a feeling of coldness, brittle nails, dry skin, constipation, fuzzy thoughts, and irregular menstruation. If you think hypothyroidism may be the reason you are tired, see your doctor. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Another possible cause of fatigue is Candida overgrowth. People with high carbohydrate or high sugar diets are often prone to this. Other risk factors include the use of antibiotics or steroids, multiple pregnancies, and use of birth control pills. Candida overgrowth can affect many bodily symptoms, so it can be hard to diagnose, but some of the most common symptoms are headaches, depression, postnasal drip, poor concentration, repeated infections (UTIs, vaginal yeast infections, jock itch, ringworm, oral thrush), and intense sugar cravings. Candida overgrowth becomes a more difficult problem to get rid of the longer it goes on, so if you think you have it, get started with treatment right away. See your doctor or alternative health specialist to help you devise an anti-Candida regimen.

Fibromyalgia can be another cause of chronic fatigue. This is an illness most commonly found in women in their 30s through 50s. In addition to exhaustion, it can cause pain in ligaments, muscle stiffness, brain fog, and gastrointestinal issues. See your doctor if you think fibromyalgia may be the reason that you are tired.

According to WebMD, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain or discomfort, dizziness or fainting, heart palpitations, lethargy and shortness of breath.  Older males with a family history of heart problems are in the highest risk category. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, high C - reactive protein (a marker of chronic inflammation), and high cholesterol levels. If you fit the profile for heart disease, don't delay in getting to your doctor.

Fatigue can also be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. GERD is when the esophagus is inflamed because of a backup of acid form the stomach. This can cause symptoms including heartburn, bitter taste in the mouth, morning hoarseness, wheezing, and persistent dry cough. These symptoms often make it difficult for people with GERD to sleep, resulting in fatigue. Certain lifestyles and habits can make you more likely to develop GERD, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating fried/fatty foods, being overweight, or frequently using antihistamines, beta-blockers or bronchodilators. Pregnant people are especially prone to GERD. If you feel that GERD has been keeping you up at night, try avoiding acidic or greasy foods, not eating for three hours prior to bedtime, or sleeping with your head elevated. If self care at home does not help, see your doctor.

If you have been to your doctor for a checkup lately and you passed with flying colors, that does not mean that you should ignore your fatigue. Whether or not fatigue is a symptom of a major disease, fatigue is always your body telling you that you need to take better care of yourself. If you suffer from chronic fatigue, consider scaling back your commitments, going to bed earlier, improving your diet (cutting back on sugar/caffeine, increasing fruits and vegetables) or just penciling some time for you into your calendar. There are many ways to improve your energy levels, most of which will improve the overall quality of your life. So get some rest and take good care of yourself - you deserve it!