Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why Am I So Tired? Possible Causes of Fatigue

Getting your energy back could be easier than you think--or your fatigue could be caused by something more serious. Start by seeing if you can relate to the top three reasons for feeling drained.

Top 3 Reasons

The most common reasons for fatigue can be caused by your daily habits.
  • How much you sleep:
    Here is an obvious cause of fatigue, though sleep deprivation is a serious matter. It's no secret that we live in a 24/7 society. Many people don't get enough sleep. If you're one of them, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours just before bedtime, steer clear of distractions, and keep your bedroom quiet and restful.
  • What you eat:
    Caffeine and sugar can leave you more fatigued as your blood sugar levels fluctuate drastically. Instead, go for a more balanced, healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Eating healthy also means you'll carry less weight, and obesity is a big contributor to fatigue.
  • How much you exercise:
    If you think that exercise would just make you more tired, think again: Exercise breeds energy. Almost all the studies that have looked at this question have found the same thing: Sedentary people who start exercising feel much less fatigue than those who stay idle. It's one of those surprising truths: move more and you'll get more energy.
    We recommend getting 40 minutes of exercise at least four days a week. Once you start moving, you will notice some improvement. Stick with it for three to six months more, and you should feel much better.
    If you follow your exercise prescription for at least a month -- and you're also making enough time for sleep -- and you're still feeling drained, look into other causes. It could be caused by something more serious.

Is it Something Else?

The most common reasons for feeling so tired all the time are those we've just discussed. Don't start thinking that you've got a medical condition until you've tried those strategies and really given them a chance. If you still feel exhausted, talk to Dr. Almaguer at your next consultation. Chronic tiredness is linked to many different medical conditions, such as:
  • Anemia:
    This is a very common cause of fatigue and very easy to check with a simple blood test. It is a more common problem for women, especially those who have heavy menstrual periods. You can treat anemia with an iron-rich diet, heavy in meats and dark, leafy greens, or supplements if you have a chronic iron deficiency.
  • Deficiencies in key nutrients, such as potassium. This can also easily be checked with blood testing.
  • Thyroid problems.
    Over- and under-active thyroids both can cause fatigue. A blood test for your level of thyroid-stimulating hormone can help evaluate your thyroid function.
  • Diabetes:
    You may be experiencing fatigue if you have uncontrolled diabetes. If you feel draggy and you're also having blurred vision or lots of urination, you should get that checked with a blood test.
  • Depression:
    If your feelings of exhaustion are accompanied by sadness and loss of appetite, and you just can't find any pleasure in things you once enjoyed, you may be depressed. Don't keep that to yourself. Talk to Dr. Almaguer about what feelings you are experiencing and he can start you on the path back to recovery and recommend a great counselor for you.
  • Sleep problems:
    If you never feel rested, and nothing seems to fix that, you might look into visiting a sleep lab, especially if you snore. Snoring can be part of obstructive sleep apnea, in which people briefly stop breathing several times a night. There are treatments for that.
  • Undiagnosed heart disease:
    Tiredness can be a sign of heart trouble, particularly in women. If you have trouble with exercise you used to do easily, or if you start feeling worse when you exercise, this could be a red flag for heart trouble. If you have any doubts, schedule a consultation.
    But again, start with the basics: your sleep, your diet, and your activity level. Sometimes the simplest fixes are all it takes.

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