By Rebecca Jones
Are you tired all the time? Most of us can attribute this to our crazy lifestyles, not enough sleep, a too busy schedule or poor diet and exercise could be to blame. But what if you’ve made all the lifestyle changes and that 8 hours still doesn’t seem to be enough? Chronic fatigue could be an indicator of a more serious health issue, read on to find out when it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.
Anemia is defined as an insufficient number of the red blood cells that bring oxygen from your lungs to your cells and tissues. This lack of oxygen can result in organ hypoxia. Caused by an iron or vitamin deficiency, women of child bearing age are particularly susceptible. Aside from fatigue, symptoms include chest pains, difficulty sleeping, rapid heartbeat and headache. There are over 400 different kinds of anemia and 3.5 million Americans suffer from the disease. For the most common varieties a change in diet or an iron supplement can help ease symptoms but it is best to see your doctor for a physical exam and blood tests.
Type 2 Diabetes
One of the first warning signs of type 2 diabetes is fatigue. Glucose is the fuel our bodies need to function properly but sufferers of type 2 diabetes are unable to use glucose properly causing it to build up in the blood. This build up can eventually lead to damaged blood vessels and nerves. Symptoms include excessive thirst, hunger, frequent urination, weight loss and erectile dysfunction. High blood pressure, obesity and inactivity greatly contribute to the risk of diabetes so there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk. Your doctor can administer either a fasting or oral glucose level test to see if diabetes is behind your chronic fatigue.
Often dismissed as a purely psychological problem, depression can have just as big an impact on your physical well-being. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating habits, trouble concentrating, feelings of hopelessness, emptiness or anxiety and digestive problems. Although depression can’t be diagnosed with an exam or blood test a consultation with your doctor could help determine if depression is to blame for your lack of energy.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that control the metabolism, the chemical reactions that control all the functions necessary to maintain life. Thyroid disease presents as either too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little hormone (hypothyroidism) both can cause chronic fatigue. Hyperthyroidism causes the metabolism to speed up and is most prevalent in women in their 20’s and 30’s. Symptoms include weakness, especially in the thighs, weight loss, increased heart rate, feeling overly warm, and an unusually low serum cholesterol in lipid panel blood tests. Hypothyroidism causes the metabolism to slow down and is extremely common in women over 50, up to 10% of women in this age group can be affected. Symptoms include muscle soreness, inability to concentrate, feeling cold all of the time and weight gain. Blood tests are administered to test thyroid function and the good news is that irregularities in the thyroid gland are easily treated.
Most of us can get a little extra sleep or take a vacation to relieve those feelings of fatigue but if it seems that no matter what you do you are still tired all the time don’t be afraid to call your doctor. With many illnesses fatigue is one of your bodies earliest warning signs so being keyed in to your energy levels is essential to early detection and overall good health.