Seven surprising causes of fatigue

You get a consistent eight hours of sleep each night, you eat a healthy diet most of the time, and you’ve even started to exercise regularly. You’re doing all the right things, so why do you feel so dragged out? When you wake up feeling tired, have trouble focusing throughout the day, and just don’t feel yourself, there’s got to be something else going on that you’re not aware of.

Read on to learn seven health conditions that may be the reason behind your lack of energy.

Cause – iron deficiency. A lack of iron is often at the root of anemia, which is a common cause of chronic tiredness, weakness, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping. Women with heavy menstrual periods are especially at risk for iron deficiency and a simple blood test can determine if you’re anemic. In the meantime, try increasing the amount of iron in your diet by eating more meat and dark, green leafy vegetables. If you test positive for anemia your doctor may suggest an iron supplement.

Cause – dehydration. When you get through half your day and realize you’ve hardly drunk anything, it’s no wonder you lack energy. Without enough water, you may feel sluggish, lightheaded, or confused. Keep a water bottle with you to sip on throughout the day. This is the number one root of most fatigue.

Cause – thyroid problems. The thyroid is a small gland located in your throat that is responsible for regulating hormones that control metabolism. Both an over- and under-active thyroid can lead to feelings of tiredness, muscle weakness, an inability to concentrate, and a host of other possible symptoms. A blood test can show if your thyroid is out of whack and treatment includes taking hormone replacement drugs.

Cause – depression. The first sign of depression is often tiredness and a lack of energy. If you find your fatigue is accompanied by feelings of sadness, a change in your eating or sleeping habits, trouble remembering things, or a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, you may be depressed. Work with your physician to find a treatment, but look to adding exercise, a new hobby, a vacation and better food habits before you think medication.

Cause – sleep apnea. When you get a full seven to nine hours of sleep each night but frequently wake up feeling tired, something may be hampering your ability to get quality, restorative sleep. Do you snore in your sleep, stop breathing, or toss and turn all night? You may have sleep apnea, a condition that affects one out of every five people who snore. Your doctor may recommend you go to a sleep lab to diagnose a possible sleep disorder. Sometimes, slight changes in eating habits, sleeping positions, and calming nutritional supplements can do the trick but often you might need to go further with medication or a sleep mask.

Cause – diabetes. You can have diabetes and not know it. But did you know that fatigue is often the first sign of diabetes? Other indications include frequent urination, hunger, excessive thirst, blurred vision, and irritability. Glucose provides your body with energy, but when you’re unable to process glucose properly, your body starts to run out of energy. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you’re suspicious of diabetes.

Cause – food allergy or intolerance. Allergies don’t just cause sneezing, runny nose, rashes, or digestive issues. They may show themselves in fatigue as well. In other words, a gluten intolerance or allergy may be the underlying reason behind your weakness and tiredness. Your doctor may recommend allergy testing to determine the exact trigger for your symptoms. Treatment includes avoiding the trigger.

Remember that to solve fatigue nine out of 10 times, the addition of exercise, proper eating and proper hydration will fix you right up. Don’t go grabbing pills and potions before you handle the basics.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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