Are you tired of feeling tired? Are you unable to tap into a reservoir of energy when needed? Fatigue can be the culprit,and for millions of people, its effects can be debilitating. The cause of fatigue is multi factorial. Lack of exercise and improper diet play the largest role for most;1 however,
there can be underlying contributing issues as well.
Simple laboratory testing can discover a number of potential causes for fatigue:
But what do you do when your doctor runs all of these tests and they come back normal?
This is too often the case for fatigue sufferers. Many doctors cite depression and try to prescribe medication despite adequate proof to do so. Many doctors simply refer the patient out to a psychiatrist. The bottom line is that fatigue sufferers are often left with unacceptable choices that don’t address the root of the problem.
To determine the cause and best treatment for fatigue, all of the factors causing the fatigue must be identified.2 Underlying factors that contribute to fatigue should be evaluated and treated when possible. Common contributing factors include: anemia, stress, eating an improper diet, poor sleep habits, excessive caffeine and sugar intake, chronic pain, dehydration, side effects from medications, nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise, and abusive relationships.
Nearly 20% of all patients who seek a physician’s assistance in treating a health concern include fatigue as a symptom relative to their affliction.5 As with most physical and emotional conditions, medications are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat symptoms of a condition rather than addressing the underlying cause. Many prescription and over the counter medications can have side effects that contribute to fatigue. Some medicines deplete vitamins and minerals necessary for the body to make energy. Some medications affect the liver and kidneys and indirectly contribute to fatigue. One of the most common side effects of medication use is fatigue. This is a big problem because according to an Associated Press Report from May of 2008, half of all Americans are taking prescription medications.
To maintain functional health, the body requires essential nutrients, sun light, clean air, exercise, and emotional stability and support. Most doctors do not take the time to assess these areas of essentiality and rely on tools like the Food Guide Pyramid to generalize their recommendations to patients. Unfortunately, general broad spectrum recommendations do not account for individual variability and can actually make the situation worse. For example, eating 8-10 servings of whole grains can cause severe illness in an individual who is gluten intolerant.
Another example is sun avoidance to reduce the risk of skin cancer: Some individuals have genetic variations that do not allow them to metabolize vitamin D as well as others. Sun light avoidance in these individual can actually increase the risk for cancer. Finding a doctor who practices functional medicine is critical if you want to address the underlying causes of fatigue. The doctor should be willing to spend enough time with you to adequately assess your problems. Less than 40 minutes of face time with the doctor is inadequate to perform a complete history and physical examination. Laboratory testing should focus on identifying genetic variability and functional parameters based on the uniqueness or the individual not just the condition. Additionally, the doctor should practice what they preach. How can you expect someone in poor health to give good health advice?
Quick & Easy Solutions
Sleep – your body needs rest. Take time to slow down and get adequate rest. Our body’s are designed to go to bed when it gets dark and to wake at first light. The closer you can stick to this simple guideline, the more energy you will have.
Water – drink plenty of it. Dehydration can bog down your metabolism. Remember that fruits and vegetables are also loaded with water, so increasing the intake of these foods will help keep you well hydrated.
Exercise – contrary to popular belief, exercise will not make you more tired. It will help your body release chemical hormones that give you a boost of energy as well as a natural high.
Sunshine – Don’t avoid the sun, just use common sense and avoid burning in the sun. Sunshine helps us produce vitamin D, but also helps us produce the hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate our sleep patterns. Regular sunshine can give a BIG boost in overall energy.
Avoid Sugar and Caffeine- Sugar and caffeine can give a quick jolt of energy, but typically end with a crash. These two substances rob B-vitamins from your body and in the long term cause energy deficit and chronic fatigue.
Identify Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies – Specific lab testing can be performed to help do this. Ask your doctor to order a Spectracell nutritional analysis. Don’t rely of faulty serum lab tests. They are very misleading. Make sure that you also check your supplements for hidden gluten as this can contribute to persistent fatigue.
Identify Food Allergies – Also possible with appropriate lab testing. Often times eating the wrong foods will hinder your body’s ability to produce adequate energy.
Got other tips? Leave your comments below!References:
Eur J Neurosci. 2008 Jul;28(2):379-88. The top-down influence of ergogenic placebos on muscle work and fatigue. Pollo A, Carlino E,Benedetti F
Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 Aug 13. A systematic comparison of fatigue levels in systemic sclerosis with general population, cancerand rheumatic disease samples.
BMC Health Serv Res. 2008 Aug 13;8(1):175. Implementing cognitive behavior therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome in mental health care:a costs and outcomes analysis.
Heart Advis. 2008 Apr;11(4):3 Exercise strengthens muscles weakened by heart failure. Increase your stamina and reduce fatigue with a customized program of aerobic exercise and strength training.
Sangyo Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2008 Aug 8. Characteristic Patterns of Fatigue Feelings on four Simulated Consecutive Night Shifts by “Jikaku-sho shirabe”
J Clin Oncol. 2008 Aug 10;26(23):3886-95. Evidence-based recommendations for cancer fatigue, anorexia, depression, and dyspnea. Dy SM, Lorenz KA, Naeim A, Sanati H, Walling A, Asch SM
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The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Peter Osborne, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Peter Osborne and his community. Peter Osborne encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.