Are you dragging yourself out of bed in the mornings? Are you using caffeine as a crutch to keep you going throughout the day? Relentless, ongoing fatigue is very common but it is not normal. Fatigue is a symptom I see almost every day in practice and it can have profound long-term effects. Many people feel that stress and fatigue are inescapable. However, the truth is that fatigue can and should be addressed; otherwise, it will eventually wear you OUT! It is really important to do more specific testing with an aim to look for the hidden causes of fatigue. The root cause of fatigue is often due to a combination of several factors.
Here are some of the possible underlying causes of fatigue:
- This is an obvious deficiency that can be picked up on lab work analyzing ferritin and CBC. Blood work is the first step in addressing if your fatigue is a quick and easy fix. Anaemia is a red blood cell deficiency. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues in your body. Without enough oxygen, you would likely feel sluggish and exhausted.
2. VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
- This is a vitamin deficiency that can easily be fixed by looking at some blood work. Vitamin B12 produces energy in the body. This is especially important for individuals who are vegetarians. B12 is mainly found in organ meats and other animal products. Fixing this could be as simple as supplementing with Vitamin B supplement or getting some B12 injections. High potency vitamins or minerals can make a difference in correcting the deficiency, regulating hormones and improving energy.
- The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that are associated with the body’s metabolic rate. Weight gain, constipation, sluggishness, hair loss and dry skin are all symptoms of a lazy thyroid. Make sure to get the full thyroid panel: TSH, T3, T4 and Thyroid Antibodies levels tested. TSH alone is usually not enough to diagnose thyroid imbalances.
4. POOR SLEEP
- Difficulty falling asleep, waking up throughout the night or waking up un-refreshed can all speak to the quality of your sleep and lead to exhaustion. Your body needs 7 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is not something you can catch up on. If you get 2 hours of sleep one night and think you can oversleep on the weekend, you are wrong – this does not work!
- The more stress you put on your body, the more your adrenals have to pump out hormones to help your body deal with the stress. Low adrenals = low energy. Low adrenals also can lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen, acne, hair thinning and waking up tired, and/or having that 2 pm drop in energy. Constant worry or stress can lead to elevated cortisol and decreased energy in the afternoon. It is also important to note that excess cortisol can affect the thyroid hormones. If this is a big factor in your life, ask about adrenal support!
6. POOR DIGESTION
- Food provides energy and nutrients. Feeling tired or bloated after a meal could indicate a possible food sensitivity. If digestion isn’t working, we cannot efficiently extract the essential nutrients that we need for daily functioning. This is a major cause of chronic fatigue. Alongside this, looking at nutrition and making sure your daily protein and healthy fat intake is where it should be is crucial to avoid those dips in energy.
Treatment wise, fatigue requires a multi-faceted approach. Blood tests help to rule out vitamin/mineral deficiencies, thyroid imbalances etc. Many patients will have the standard tests done: TSH, CBC, B12 and everything comes back within “normal limits”. What is “normal” for you may not be “normal” for someone else. The next step is to address sleep, stress and nutrition. Naturopathic Doctors take a broader look at all of the possible causes and get to the root cause. Extreme fatigue is a sign from the body that something needs to be addressed. Get to the root cause of your fatigue today!
**Disclaimer** The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.
Written By : Dr. Saira Kassam | 2018