There are so many causes of fatigue, and we tend to ignore fatigue until it interferes with our daily lives in a very dramatic way. We say “I’m getting older” or “I’m working hard”, but the TRUTH is that we should feel vital and full of energy if we are in a healthy, balanced state regardless of age or occupation.
Common Causes of Fatigue
Sleep disorders cause a lot of us to be fatigued. Some are obvious: we know we have trouble falling asleep or we wake up several times during the night. We may be taking stimulant medications or suffer with a diagnosed mental disorder. We may suffer with restless leg syndrome or frequent urination due to drugs or an enlarged prostate…Some causes are not as obvious: we are deprived of oxygen while we are sleeping and keeping ourselves from entering the deepest levels of sleep, we may be having nightmares or anxiety that is not manifesting during the daytime hours.
Depression and/or anxiety go hand in hand with fatigue. There is often a causal relationship between these symptoms and feeling tired. This type of clinical picture requires further investigation by your naturopathic physician.
Anemia and other blood disorders can cause fatigue. Our blood carries oxygen to all of our tissues. If there is a disorder of the blood cells or blood composition caused by genetic disorders or dietary deficiencies, it may cause fatigue.
Additionally, our heart is responsible for pumping this blood to our entire body. If the heart is failing or struggling to perform optimally, it may have the same effect with decreased oxygenation of tissues.
Decreased oxygen can originate in the lungs also. Chronic pulmonary diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, or cystic fibrosis decrease our body’s ability to oxygenate our blood, leading to fatigue.
Endocrine disorders are a common cause of fatigue with hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus being the most common contributing factors seen clinically. There are other hormone deficiencies that may cause fatigue as well, such as vitamin D deficiency. Did you realize Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and in actuality should not really be called a “vitamin” but instead a “hormone.” Lab tests ordered by your naturopathic physician can give a clear picture of your hormone status.
Chronic infectious disease may cause fatigue that may seem insurmountable. HIV is no longer a lethal infection, but it is a cause of severe fatigue. Other chronic viral infections like EBV, CMV, and Lyme disease among others can also cause fatigue. These viruses “hide out” in our nervous systems and create a sometimes hard to identify cause to a lowered quality of life. Candida, a type of yeast, can also overgrow in our bodies chronically and cause a myriad of symptoms, including fatigue.
There are many drugs, both prescribed and recreational, that can cause fatigue. Side effects are usually known or disclosed, but we sometimes miss the connection between the drug we’ve been taking for years and our slow-onset fatigue. Many environmental toxins, as well, can disrupt the function of virtually any system of the body and cause fatigue by damaging tissues or interrupting production of vital messengers such as hormones or absorption of vital nutrients.
Gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease, and chronic liver disease can cause malabsorption of nutrients, weight loss, and inflammation that then cause fatigue. Naturopathic medicine believes in treating the cause, and naturopathic physicians are very well trained in treating the GI tract as a mainstay of treatment.
Neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, and even stroke also have fatigue as one of the main symptoms. Rheumatologic disorders such as SLE or fibromyalgia as well as cancer can present with fatigue also. Conventional treatments for these diseases don’t always address this symptom although it can be one of the worst problems for these patients as a result of their main diagnosis. Your naturopathic physician is trained to treat the whole person, and will address your fatigue as necessary.
The bottom line is, regardless of the cause of your fatigue, whether known or unknown, it is not healthy or normal and you can get help! Call Sunshine Health Care Center at (623) 266-1722 or contact us online today to set up an appointment with your naturopathic physician and begin to feel well again.