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Do you often find yourself feeling sluggish and tired, even when you've gotten a good night's sleep? While it's normal to feel tired occasionally, persistent fatigue can have a significant impact on your daily life, quality of life and productivity. Chronic fatigue and low energy can be frustrating and debilitating for those who suffer from it. If you are experiencing ongoing fatigue and a lack of energy, there could be several underlying causes. Because there are several possible reasons for fatigue and tiredness, it is important to keep track of your other accompanying symptoms and discuss with your doctor to pinpoint the root cause of your condition. In this article, we will discuss 10 common causes of chronic fatigue and low energy.
1) Thyroid disorder: one of the most common conditions that can decrease your energy level is hypothyroidism. This can develop due to an underactive thyroid gland. Thyroid gland is a vital hormone gland that regulates energy metabolism and a host of other body functions. When levels of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 becomes low, you may notice constant fatigue, tiredness and difficulty sleeping, which further worsens the existing fatigue. Other symptoms of low thyroid hormone levels are dry skin and hair, sensitivity to cold temperatures, joint and muscle pain, among others. Once confirmed by a laboratory blood test, your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone replacement drug such as Synthroid to help manage the condition. It might take 4-6 weeks to notice a difference in your energy levels after resuming the medication.
2) Anemia: another common reason for low energy may be anemia. Anemia, low red blood cells count, can be caused by low iron, or low vitamin b12. Iron and vitamin b12 are essential to produce red blood cells. Red blood cells are the oxygen carrying cells that make oxygen available in various part of the body. When red blood cell count becomes low, it can lead to fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Treatment for anemia involves supplements and dietary changes to increase iron and vitamin b12 intake. If you are looking for food that can increase your iron levels, you want to opt for iron-rich food such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs. Vegetarians can opt for vegetarian iron sources such as dark leafy green vegetables, tofu, beans and lentils, chia seed, pumpkin seeds, and nuts. Although iron supplements are available over the counter, it is important to speak to your doctor to confirm low iron by blood test before taking iron supplements. This is because too much of iron can also be a problem.
3) Autoimmune disorder: autoimmune disorders happen when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the body. This can cause fatigue as the body's resources are diverted to fight off the perceived threat. Common autoimmune disorders that can cause fatigue include lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Other symptoms of autoimmune disorders can include joint pain, skin rashes, and fever. Speak to your doctor about your symptoms for accurate diagnosis. Autoimmune disorders are typically treated with medications that regulate the immune response and reduce inflammation. Examples include: methotrexate, azathioprine, belimumab.
4) Chronic viral infection: chronic viral infections, such as hepatitis, HIV, and Epstein-Barr virus, COVID-19 can cause chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder that can cause extreme fatigue that is not improved with rest. Other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include muscle pain, headaches, and cognitive difficulties. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome involves treating the underlying infection, taking plenty of rest to allow to full recovery and managing residual symptoms with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
5) Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that can also cause fatigue and low energy levels. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it is believed to be related to the way the brain processes pain signals. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems. Treatment for fibromyalgia typically involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and stress management.
6) Lack of exercise: Physical activity can boost energy levels by increasing blood flow to various body organs and improving cardiovascular function. Research has shown that regular exercise can help reduce fatigue and increase overall energy levels. This is because exercise increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Exercise also stimulates the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins, that help to improve overall mood and energy levels.
7) Poor sleep quality: Sleep is essential for restoring energy levels and maintaining overall health. When we sleep the brain detoxifies the blood by clearing out waste products from the blood circulation. A good night sleep results in feeling of freshness in the morning. Poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation can lead to daytime fatigue and a decrease in energy levels. The quality of sleep is as important as the sleep quantity (length). It is recommended for all adults to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to ensure optimal health. To improve sleep quality, establish a regular sleep routine and practice good sleep hygiene. Although sleep aids like melatonin can help restore circadian rhythm, it is not recommended to be used on a long term.
8) Stress: When the body is under acute stress, a fight or flight response is mounted. This helps to recover and overcome the stressor. However, when the body is under chronic stressful conditions such as over working, impending deadlines, poor social and family relationships for a prolonged amount of time, it becomes a problem. Chronic stress can lead to fatigue and a decrease in energy levels. The body's stress response can also interfere with sleep quality, further contributing to fatigue. Stress management techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help reduce stress and improve energy levels.
9) Chronic inflammation: Chronic inflammation can lead to fatigue and a decrease in energy levels. Inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, and chronic infections. If you think you have chronic inflammation, your doctor may order certain blood tests such as CRP (C-reactive protein), ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation ratio), and PV (plasma viscosity) tests to confirm the level of inflammation in your body. In addition, you may be prescribed an anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone to calm down your inflammation. In addition, eating an anti-inflammatory diet such as green leafy vegetables, olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, fatty fish and fruits, and engaging in regular exercise can help reduce inflammation and improve energy levels.
10) Chronic diseases: Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, can cause fatigue and a decrease in energy levels. Treatment for chronic diseases typically involves lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medications to manage symptoms and prevent complications. Sometimes excessive tiredness and fatigue can also be a side effect of medications that you are taking. Talk to your doctor if you notice any changes to your energy levels shortly after starting a new medication.
Now that you know there are many likely reasons behind poor energy levels, make sure to track your symptoms so that you can take an action. Remember, you are your best advocate when it comes to your own health. Discuss your symptoms to the doctor in detail. Your doctor will investigate to see if you have an underlying condition that is affecting your energy levels dramatically. If an underlying condition is identified, then further steps need to be taken for treatment and management.
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