Why Am I so Tired?

© 2015 Dr. Sharon Norling

Trying to keep up with the children or your responsibilities is difficult. Fatigue is a common health problem. “I am so tired I don’t have the energy I need for my family, my friends, my job, or for me.”

Approximately 20% of Americans complain of fatigue to their doctors. However, in my practice, when I ask the question, “are you fatigued”, the answer is “yes” about 80% of the time!

You may have seen your physician who ordered a panel of labs. Most fatigues don’t show up on our annual physical results. The labs were normal and your physician says, “You’re fine”. But you know you are tired and lack energy.

Are there days when you are exhausted even though you may have slept 8-9 hours? Some days you’re so low on energy that you’re drowsy by lunchtime and in need of a nap by mid-afternoon. What’s making you so tired all the time? Stress, poor eating habits, overwork, even medical treatments can wear you down and cause fatigue.

Anemia can cause fatigue especially in women during their reproductive years. But many times anemia is not the cause. Men are tired, too. It is often harder for a man to admit he is tired. Anemia can be caused by low iron, folic acid or B12.

Low thyroid (hypothyroidism) can contribute to lethargy, depression, fatigue, constipation and even hair loss. A simple blood test, TSH, is not enough to make a diagnosis. According to the American Thyroid Foundation, by age 60 approximately 17% of all women will have a thyroid disorder and most won’t know it.

The most common cause, they say, is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This condition causes the body to destroy the cells responsible for producing thyroxin and other hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. The result is hypothyroidism. A complete thyroid panel is required including a TSH, free T3, free T4, and a reverse T3. If the TSH is greater than 2.50 you probably have decreased thyroid function and may benefit from using thyroid replacement. It is important that you also have normal levels of iodine, selenium and zinc for adequate thyroid function.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. Individuals with adrenal fatigue often have difficulty getting up in the morning no matter how long they have slept!

With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.

If your estrogen, progesterone or testosterone is low you may experience lack of energy, low libido, have decrease strength or endurance or even fall asleep after dinner!

Neurotransmitter imbalances, such as low levels of serotonin, nor-epinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, or glutamate can cause lethargy, low libido, insomnia, brain fog, lack of focus and motivation, which all contribute to decrease energy and a lack of well-being.

Causes of Fatigue:

  • Anemia
  • Low Thyroid
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Hormones
  • Neurotransmitter imbalance
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Food allergies
  • Overwork, and lack of relaxation and fun
  • Insomnia and sleep apnea
  •  Constipation
  •  Dehydration
  •  Chronic Illness

When your hormones are in balance, you feel great — you have lots of energy, you sleep like a baby, your sex drive is strong, you look wonderful, and your immune and digestive systems function beautifully.

The most important thing is if you feel fatigued for any reason, get tested. It may just be a matter of a hormone imbalance.

Written By: Dr. Sharon Norling, MBA

 

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius / FreeDigitalPhotos.net