If you have been suffering from fatigue and low energy, you are not alone. It is estimated that one in five people experience abnormal fatigue at some point and it can last for years for some. Fatigue and low energy can be caused by many conditions such as thyroid disease, anemia, infections, depression, nutritional deficiencies, cancer, diabetes and hormonal imbalances, to name a few. Investigating all possible conditions related to fatigue will rule out any underlying factors that may be contributing to the problem.
5 UNDERLYING CAUSES OF FATIGUE
1. Tired Blood
A simple blood test can help to reveal if a condition called anemia or low iron is the cause of your fatigue. Optimal Ferritin (iron storage) levels should be over 100 and levels falling below 15 are considered severe anemia. Other symptoms can include feeling cold, paleness, shortness of breath, dizziness, lowered immunity, irritability, headaches, and easy bruising. The fix is simple and should include a combination of an easy to absorb iron supplement along with Vitamin C, B12, and Folic acid. Most people feel dramatically better within 21 days.
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2. Low Thyroid Function
This accounts for up to one third of the population’s fatigue symptoms. There are 4 lab tests that should be done to get the complete thyroid function picture. These include TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and TPO. TSH is the main marker for thyroid function and levels above 3.0 are a low functioning thyroid. Other symptoms may include feeling cold, hair loss, depression, weight gain, constipation, headaches, brain fog, aches and pains.
3. Food Allergies
Fatigue can be the result of hidden food allergies or sensitivities. Gluten is the biggest culprit in this case but other inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, pork, shellfish, eggs and processed foods often also play a part. To discover if foods are playing a role in your fatigue you can undergo a 21-day food elimination diet whereby all the listed foods are eliminated for 21 days and then slowly re-introduced back in one at a time three day apart. Alternatively, a simple blood test called an ELISA food allergy panel can easily reveal hidden food allergies (this type of testing is only available through Dr’s of Natural Medicine).
4. Adrenal Fatigue
Stress plays a role in almost all disease and conditions. The adrenal glands are responsible for secreting the hormones that we need to respond to the stressors in our lives. Chronic stress can deplete the function of the adrenals and reserves can become diminished. This can result in fatigue, lowered stress resistance, lowered immune function and an overall burnt out feeling. Testing for adrenal function can be done through a saliva test known as the Adrenal Stress Index.
It is estimated that 60% of Canadian’s are suffering with some type of sleep issue. Sleep is key to our daytime energy levels and many of us are burning the candle at both ends. The first step is to create a "sleep routine". Start winding down around 8pm. Step away from the computer and dim the lights. Doing this will allow your brain to start producing melatonin. Avoid eating after 7pm so that your digestive system can also take a much-needed rest. The next step is creating a "sleep zone". This means creating a space that is inviting for sleep. Turn your bedroom into an oasis of comfort and relaxation. Make sure there are no lights left on in your room. Turn the alarm clock away from your head so the light from it does not interfere with your melatonin production. If outside noise is an issue, invest in a white noise unit. Keep pets on their own beds and out of yours. Turn off the TV and empty your mind of the day's worries.
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