With the holiday season upon us we all need to be on top of our game. There is nothing worse than having a plethora of things to do, and not being able to muster up enough energy to get past breakfast.
Here are some of the more common medical causes of ongoing fatigue that you might want to consider having looked at if you feel that your energy has been sapped.
The fatigue caused by anemia is the result of a lack of red blood cells, which bring oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and cells. You may feel weak and short of breath. An iron or vitamin deficiency, blood loss, internal bleeding, or a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, or kidney failure may cause anemia. In the tropics, intestinal worms are also a frequent cause of anemia.
Women of childbearing age are especially susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia because of blood loss during menstruation and the body’s need for extra iron during pregnancy and breastfeeding. B12 deficiency is a special kind of anemia (Pernicious anemia) caused by the inability to digest B12 from you food. If this is the case you may need B12 injections every month or so.
The symptoms: Feeling tired all the time is a major one. Others include extreme weakness, difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, rapid heartbeat, chest pains, and headache. Simple exercise, such as climbing the stairs or walking short distances, can cause fatigue.
The tests: A thorough evaluation for anemia includes a physical exam and blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), to check the levels of your red blood cells. It’s also standard to check the stool for blood loss.
When your thyroid hormones are out of whack, even everyday activities will wipe you out. The thyroid gland is found in the front of the neck and produces hormones that control your metabolism. Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), and metabolism speeds up. Too little (hypothyroidism), and metabolism slows down.
The symptoms: Hyperthyroidism causes muscle fatigue and weakness, which you may notice first in the thighs. Exercises such as riding a bike or climbing stairs become more difficult. Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss, feeling warm all the time, increased heart rate, shorter and less frequent menstrual flows, and increased thirst. Hypothyroidism causes fatigue, an inability to concentrate, and muscle soreness, even with minor activity. Other symptoms include weight gain due to water retention, feeling cold all the time (even in warmer weather), heavier and more frequent menstrual flows, and constipation.
The tests: Thyroid disease can be detected with a blood test and is easily treatable.
More than a million people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year, but many more may not even know they have it. Sugar, also called glucose, is the fuel that keeps your body going. And that means trouble for people with type 2 diabetes who can’t use glucose properly, causing it to build up in the blood. Without enough energy to keep the body running smoothly, people with diabetes often notice fatigue as one of the first warning signs.
The symptoms: Aside from feeling tired all the time, other signs include excessive thirst, frequent urination, hunger, weight loss, irritability, yeast infections, and blurred vision.
The tests: There are several simple blood tests that can be performed to diagnose diabetes.
More than “the blues,” depression is a major illness that affects the way we sleep, eat, and feel about others and ourselves. Without treatment, the symptoms of depression may last for weeks, months, or even years.
The symptoms: We don’t all experience depression in the same way. But commonly, depression can cause decreased energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, problems with memory and concentration, and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and negativity.
The tests: Your doctor may be able to identify it by asking you a series of questions. If you experience five or more of these symptoms below for more than 2 weeks, or if they interfere with your life, see your doctor or mental health professional: fatigue or loss of energy; sleeping too little or too much; a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; reduced appetite and weight loss; increased appetite and weight gain; loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed; restlessness or irritability; persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless; thoughts of death or suicide.
This baffling condition causes a strong fatigue that comes on quickly. People who suffer from CFS feel too tired to carry on with their normal activities and are easily exhausted with little exertion.
The symptoms: Other signs include headache, muscle and joint pain, weakness, tender lymph nodes, and an inability to concentrate. Chronic fatigue syndrome remains puzzling, because it has no known cause.
The tests: There is none. Your doctor must rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, before making the diagnosis.
You could have this sleep-disrupting problem if you wake up feeling tired no matter how much rest you think you got. Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. In the most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, your upper airway actually closes or collapses for a few seconds, which, in turn, alerts your brain to wake you up to begin breathing again. Someone with obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times a night.
The symptoms: Sleep apnea is often signaled by snoring and is generally followed by tiredness the next day. Because sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, it’s important to be tested.
The tests: This involves an overnight stay at a sleep clinic, where you’ll undergo a polysomnogram, which is a painless test that will monitor your sleep patterns, breathing changes, and brain activity.
There are many, many conditions that can cause fatigue, and if you have already addressed the obvious improvements that can be made to your lifestyle (exercise, diet, rest, alcohol & smoking), and you are still tired, you should consult your doctor.
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Copyright © 2017 Kim Patra
You can read all past articles of
Paradise…in Sickness & in Health at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz