Tired all the Time? Eight Medical Issues to be Aware Of
It’s estimated that 20 percent of Americans feel tired to the point that it interferes with their daily life. This type of overwhelming and chronic fatigue interferes with your ability to enjoy life and feel productive, but why does it happen?
Over 20 percent of menopausal women in the United States are diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction, of which fatigue is a common symptom.
Countless emotional and physical problems can contribute to feelings of tiredness, but often fatigue is the result of taxing lifestyle habits such as:
Not sleeping enough (getting even one hour less sleep than you need can leave you feeling drowsy, according to the Mayo Clinic)
Eating poorly or drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
Stress (trying to do too much, worrying about work or finances, etc.)
How can you tell if your lifestyle is causing you to be tired?
Take two to three weeks and clean up your act -- get more sleep, trim your social obligations, eat better, drink more water, take a high-quality mutlivitamin and cut back on caffeine and alcohol, Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, of Atlanta recommended in Prevention magazine.
"If you have made the changes that make sense, and you're still feeling the symptoms of fatigue, then you need professional help," Dr. Fryhofer said.
If feelings of fatigue are interfering with your quality of life, see a health care professional to help you find the root of the problem. Numerous medical conditions, such as the ones listed below, may be to blame.
Eight Common Medical Causes of Fatigue
- Sleep Disorders: An estimated 50 million to 70 million people suffer from sleep loss or sleep disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These range from insomnia -- the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep -- to sleep apnea. In the case of sleep apnea, reduced airflow in your airway causes your breathing to stop. This leads to frequent, brief awakenings that can leave you feeling excessively fatigued during the day, even though you don’t recall being awakened.
- Thyroid Problems: Hypothyroidism, which occurs when your thyroid gland does not release enough thyroid hormone, as well as hyperthyroidism, which occurs when your thyroid produces excess hormone, can both result in fatigue.
- Diabetes: Extreme fatigue is often an early warning sign of type 2 diabetes. Other symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and recurring infections. A physician can determine if you have diabetes by performing a simple blood test.
- Anemia: This blood disorder impacts your blood’s ability to transport oxygen, leading to fatigue. Anemia can be caused by numerous conditions ranging from heavy menstrual periods, vitamin deficiencies or chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.
- Depression: Along with feelings of sadness, changes in eating and sleeping patterns and problems with memory and concentration, depression frequently results in a significant loss of energy.
Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling "slowed down" are common symptoms of depression to watch out for.
- Cancer: Fatigue may be a symptom of cancer, as well as a side effect of cancer treatment.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: This chronic condition involves inflammation in the lining of the joints, and early symptoms often include fatigue and low energy, along with joint pain and loss of appetite. Anemia and thyroid disorders, which also cause fatigue, are common in people with rheumatoid arthritis as well.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): People with CFS suffer from extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest, muscle aches and difficulty concentrating. Because little is known about the causes of this condition, it’s often diagnosed on the basis of exclusion, after other potential conditions have been ruled out.
Ready to Increase Your Energy Once and for All?
If you’ve ruled out health conditions as the cause of your tiredness, there’s a good chance that your habits and routines are actually to blame. You can increase your energy and vigor by simply striving to:
Eat well. A healthy diet with fresh, minimally processed foods will give you drastically more energy than a diet of mostly processed food. Make sure to include plenty of protein as well -- your body needs it to keep organs functioning and energy levels up.
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Exercise. Though it sounds ironic, putting out the energy to work out will give you more energy and make your daily tasks easier. While doing a cardio workout, alternate several minutes of high-intensity movement with several minutes of lower intensity. This will get your energy levels up without wearing you down.
Tend to your emotions. Worry, anxiety, stress and other negative emotions will drain your energy -- fast. Even positive emotions like excitement and anticipation can wear you down energy-wise. So make sure you take time every day to calm your mind and relax. Your body and mind know how to relax -- we just need to give them "permission" to do so. This is easier said than done, of course, so for those of you who need a little help, we highly recommend the Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit CD by respected meditation expert Mary Maddux.
Limit your caffeine intake. Too much coffee or caffeinated soda will actually tire you out in the long run (about one cup a day is ok). Instead of reaching for caffeinated beverages, the staff at Sixwise loves Ajmera's Orang-O Energy, Coco Energy and Mang-O Energy. These drinks are 100% natural with NO caffeine, no preservatives, synthetic food colors or artificial flavors. All three of Ajmera's beverages will keep you hydrated, helping you function better, and are ideal after a tiring day or just when you need a boost. As a bonus, they taste great and come in powder form, so you can take them with you anywhere.
Drink more water. If you get dehydrated, it will make you feel sluggish. Be sure to avoid BPA and toxins in your water as well.
Stretch. It’s a deceptively simple way to increase your daily energy. Using the proper form in stretching is essential to achieving the maximum energy benefits. To learn 15 important stretches that stretch all the key muscles groups throughout your entire body in only 15-20 minutes a day, Sixwise.com highly recommends the Stretching Toward a Healthier Life DVD.
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MedicalNewsToday.com August 21, 2008
ABC News February 28, 2008
AOLHealth.com: Tired All the Time?
MayoClinic.com: Fatigue: When to Rest, When to Worry