Common Causes of Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints I hear about. When I ask patients to rank their energy on a scale of 1 to 10 most people hover around 5 and would like to see their number go up. Fatigue could be a symptom of a huge range of causes from mild to serious. Today I’ll talk about some of the common causes that I see.
Some causes of fatigue are simple to spot on a blood test. Examples are:
– low iron
– low B12
Another basic cause of fatigue is poor sleep quality. This includes issues falling or staying asleep. This is an area that I like to work on with any fatigued patient.
Hormone fluctuations or imbalances can lead to fatigue. Some common examples are thyroid dysfunction, menopause and premenstrual syndrome. Other cases are more subtle. You may have completely irregular cycles or painful cramps but no specific diagnosis. Sometimes getting hormones back in balance can help with fatigue in these cases.
Naturopathic doctors talk a lot about a type of fatigue called adrenal fatigue. I like to call it burnout. The adrenal glands produce the “stress hormone” cortisol. The theory is that being stressed and busy all the time can push the adrenals to work too hard. Eventually they get overtired and you feel that as an energy crash. With adrenal fatigue, you feel tired but wide awake at bedtime. You feel irritable, frazzled or depressed. Your gut may be acting up and you may be experiencing cravings and weight gain. You also may find that you get sick all the time – or every time you’re on vacation. There’s more to the theory but I’ll dig into it in a future article.
Poor gut health can contribute to fatigue. This includes diarrhea, constipation, bloating, heartburn or anything else that involves the gut. A healthy gut means better nutrient absorption. It also means better elimination of toxins and waste products and improved vitality. Food sensitivities and poor diet have also been linked to fatigue.
Most autoimmune conditions are associated with fatigue. Some common examples are rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. Hyperactive immune systems (think allergies and asthma) can also be associated with fatigue. Balancing the immune system is an important part of my treatment plan in these cases.
A less commonly discussed cause of fatigue is mental health conditions. Depression and even anxiety can significantly zap someone of their energy. It’s important to address these causes of fatigue when needed. Treating these can improve fatigue more than any quick-fix energy boosting supplement could.
Fatigue is frustrating and getting a handle on it can improve your quality of life in so many ways. If you need help with your fatigue book an appointment or free 15-minute consult today.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected]