Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 17, 2020

7 Hidden Causes of Fatigue And Steps to Prevent Serious Health Damage

7 Hidden Causes of Fatigue And Steps to Prevent Serious Health Damage

Are you persistently tired? Now medicine calls this Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

If you’ve been experiencing exhaustion for 6 months or more and your doctor hasn’t been able to identify the cause, you might have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It’s a complex condition which may consist of a number of individual or coexisting issues. These, in turn, may lead to extremely serious illnesses, if you don’t act soon enough.

1. Dehydration.

If you’re constantly tired, your blood pressure is low, you feel cold and your eyes are sore, you may be dehydrated.

Why do you feel this way?

Your body is moist inside. This moisture allows your organs to work properly. Your lungs must be wet for you to be able to breathe and your whole digestive tract needs water to be able to work at all. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells through the blood and helps to cool the body through perspiration. Moreover, without it, we’d be poisoned to death by our own waste products because it also cleanses our system.

What are the most common underlying issues correlated with dehydration?

Kidney failure.

Kidney failure is a common occurrence and is often reversible, if treated early. As dehydration progresses, the volume of fluid in your body decreases, and blood pressure may fall. This can limit the blood flow to vital organs including the kidneys, and like any organ with a decreased blood flow, it has the potential to fail to do its job.

Electrolyte abnormalities.

Electrolytes (like sodium, potassium, and chloride) are minerals we need to be healthy. In dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities may occur since these chemicals are excreted from your body when you sweat. It may cause muscle weakness, fatigue and heart rhythm disturbances. That’s why sportspeople drink isotonic drinks—because they sweat so much when they work out, getting rid of these basic elements which make us tick.

Obesity.

If you don’t drink enough water, you can debilitate every aspect of your body.  Dr. Howard Flaks, a bariatric (obesity) specialist in Beverly Hills, Calif, says that among most common results of dehydration you experience are: excess body fat, poor muscle tone and size, weak digestion, slower organ function, failure to get rid of toxins, and pain in the joints and muscles—all of which is experienced as fatigue.

What can you do?

Advertising

3855927509_ba4917d249_z

    Drink more water. To keep your body moist and cool you need around 10 glasses a day, whether you’re at your desk or gym. Not tea or juice but clean, still water. The best and most economical option is to drink filtered, fresh tap water. Get some recycled glass bottles, fill them up every day and always have one with you wherever you go. How do you know when you’re hydrated properly? It’s really simple—your urine will be light colored. And don’t worry about running to the bathroom every 5 minutes—after a couple of weeks your body will get used to better hydration and you’ll go less often but urinate more.

    photo: ricardo

    2. Sleep apnea.

    If you sleep a decent number of hours but wake up tired and totally unrefreshed, you should consult a sleep specialist. When you hear “sleep apnea,” you imagine a middle-aged, overweight and snoring man; however, literally everyone can have it, even children, although loud snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, accompanied by daytime sleepiness. It is a condition, where breathing stops for short periods during sleep, and it can contribute greatly to fatigue.

    Caution! This condition could be very dangerous:

    A Canadian study showed that if left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea makes a person three times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than people without the disorder.

    Untreated sleep apnea can also affect your ability to concentrate, can cause memory problems, weight gain, and feelings of depression, and may contribute to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

    3. Allergies.

    Another, very common cause of fatigue are seasonal and hidden food allergies. Many CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) sufferers complain of digestion related problems such as bloating, indigestion and abdominal pain.

    Seasonal allergies.

    In case of seasonal allergies, you may experience sleep disturbances that cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Nasal congestion related to them causes disordered breathing in sleep, and your prescribed medication will often affect your sleep, depriving you of a good night’s rest and draining your daytime energy.

    Food allergies.

    Food allergies may occur either independently or together with seasonal ones. Problems usually start in the gut, which is the barrier between your food and your bloodstream. The cells that make up your digestive tract form an extremely thin barrier which is easily damaged by alcohol, food allergies, antibiotics, and most of all by painkillers (the average person takes 373 a year of them). This can take a huge toll on your body and erode away your health over time, causing not only persistent fatigue but also many other health problems.

    Advertising

    In order to address them, you first need to identify the allergens, which may be tricky in cases of the delayed reactions. There are proven tests you can take however, such as skin prick test, blood test, oral food challenge or trial elimination diet. The last part is quite simple; to find out what you’re allergic to, for at least 5 days, eliminate the following common allergy triggers:

    • Chocolate

    • Citrus fruits and juices

    • Eggs

    • Grains (gluten)

    • Milk and milk products

    Leo Galland, MD, director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine in New York City and author of “Power Healing” says, “I’ve found that close to three-fourths of my patients will find their fatigue improves when their allergies improve.” This improvement varies widely, but sometimes it can be dramatic. “There have been some patients in whom disabling chronic fatigue totally goes away when their food allergies were treated,” he notes.

    4. Anaemia.

    Common symptoms are due to the reduced amount of oxygen in your body. They include tiredness, having little energy (lethargy), feeling faint, and becoming easily breathless. This also may be why you have pale skin.

    Advertising

    Why we have it:

    Anaemia may be caused either by Iron or B12 (folate) deficiency. It means that you have fewer red blood cells than normal, or you have less haemoglobin than normal in each red blood cell. In case of of vitamin B12 deficiency, there are a number of possible causes. Typically it occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat.

    In either case, a reduced amount of oxygen is carried around in the bloodstream. It’s quite easy to diagnose with a simple blood test and your GP can prescribe medication for you to take. But you have to take a blood test. To beat anaemia, you should eat a healthy diet including meat, liver, green vegetables and eggs .

    5. Hormonal imbalances.

    Adrenal fatigue

    One of the most damaging effects of adrenal fatigue and burnout is the inability to properly excrete heavy metals. This can include heavy metals such as copper, manganese and iron that are essential nutrients in the proper amount but which can become toxic when they build up in the body. Once you develop a certain degree of adrenal insufficiency, heavy metal imbalances build up. The most common toxic metals are aluminum, mercury and cadmium. The most common essential metals that can become toxic are copper and manganese. Once these metal imbalances and accumulations have occurred, it is too late to experience a full recovery without balancing your body chemistry and eliminating them from your system. They inhibit your cells so they produce less energy and your body is unable to utilize the nutrients you give it. Until you clear your system of these metals, they will continue to create ongoing, 24-hour a day stress, no matter what else you do to relieve pressure in your life.

    Fatigue and thyroid.

    A very common cause underlying tiredness is an underactive thyroid gland, which produces the hormone thyroxine, which is vital for keeping your energy level consistent. The classic symptoms are fatigue, low sex drive, low body temperature, weight gain, poor memory, dry skin and constipation. Your thyroid function can be tested by your doctor in a blood test. Patrick Holford, MD says hypothyroidism is extremely common, and may be caused by things like an autoimmune response, prolonged stress or taking drugs which can damage your thyroid (always read the label).

    6. Gut infections.

    Candida.

    Gut dysbiosis—an imbalance of microorganisms inhabiting the gut—is often implicated in experiencing fatigue. This might be bacterial, parasitic or fungal, the most common being Candida albicans. A candida overgrowth (candidiasis), which causes symptoms in almost any part of the body, is found to be present in most—if not all—CFS cases.

    Yeast infections.

    These are really difficult to diagnose because their symptoms are all over the board. There are hundreds of them from Chapped and dry flaky skin to Arthritis. Diagnosis based on symptoms alone is a real challenge for the next House, MD.

    There is a home test, however, but it needs to be confirmed by a doctor: take a clear glass of water and spit into it just after you wake up. Make sure you build up a bunch of saliva, but just saliva from your mouth—don’t cough up anything. Do this before you rinse, spit or put anything into your mouth. Then wait for 15 minutes. Your saliva will float on the surface of the water, which is normal.

    However, if you see cloudy saliva that sinks to the bottom of the glass like sediment, you may be seeing colonies of yeast. You may also see the saliva on the top with tiny strings that start to hang down that may look like jellyfish, hair, or spider legs, or suspended specks of yeast floating in the middle of the glass.

    Advertising

    How to fight them.

    Skip sugary foods like baked goods, ice cream and candy. You should also cut back on starches, like potatoes, bread, pasta and cereal. These sugary and starchy foods encourage the growth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast. Instead, eat foods that help your good bacteria take over. Focus on fermented foods, which have good bacteria in them. They include foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, which you can put in eggs, soups or rice.

    Vegetables are always a good idea because of their high-fiber content. Some high-fiber grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice, seeds, nuts and buckwheat are also helpful. Fiber also helps to feed and nurture the good bacteria. There’s also very healthy type of fermented tea called kombucha, which heals the gut.

    7. Sugar imbalance.

    We’ve already discussed how harmful sugar is for you because it nourishes yeast in your body. However, there’s yet another facet to it: the most omnipresent, pervasive tiredness that almost everybody feels every day is caused by sugar highs and lows. When you have a coke or a doughnut, you get a kick of energy that is hard to substitute. Quickly after that, you are likely to experience an even deeper energy slump and hunger, or the so-called craving, which makes you consume more sweetness.

    This is a very dangerous circle, because if continued, it may bring about some really serious conditions, like diabetes. What happens is that when you have a helping of sugar, your body has to produce insulin to let it into your system and make energy out of it. The more sugar you eat, the harder your body has to work to balance it. Finally, your system gives up, breaks down and you become insulin insensitive. You have to get off this energy rollercoaster and again, Patrick Holford, MD from Great Britain has some very good advice for how to do it:

    • If you are craving sugar, first have a large glass of water, then a piece of fruit with some nuts or seeds (eating protein with carbohydrate keeps your blood sugar level even).

    • Always eat breakfast. You are aiming for three meals and two snacks a day. By eating little and often you help support your blood sugar balance.

    • Minimize caffeine and alcohol, as these both affect your blood sugar.

    There are many more medically recognized causes of fatigue, and some a lot more serious than the ones discussed here. The seven situations above, however, are extremely common and fairly benign conditions, where you can still react and prevent more serious damage; however, in most cases you must make certain, often very simple sacrifices. If you’re tired but there’s no apparent reason for that, analyze your situation while you still have the benefit of time. With good diet, rest and minor medical interference, you’ll be able to prevent serious damage for life. It’s way better to be safe than sorry.

    Featured photo credit: Mel Elías via unsplash.com

    More by this author

    7 Hidden Causes of Fatigue And Steps to Prevent Serious Health Damage 10 Ways To Remove The Distractions That Keep You From Doing the Best At Work

    Trending in Restore Energy

    1 Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Tired and How to Fix It 2 15 Tips to Manage Shift Work and Your Quality of Life 3 The 5-Step Guide to Self Care for Busy People 4 How to Spot the Signs of Burnout and Overcome It Fast 5 7 Things You Can Do to Deal with Low-Energy Days

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Tired and How to Fix It

    Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Tired and How to Fix It

    “Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. However, when tiredness is persistent—when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get—it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

    While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here are some of the most common causes of fatigue.

    1. Dehydration

    If you’re asking “Why am I so tired?” and want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and it needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions[1].

    Signs of dehydration

      If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit[2]. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energizing oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

      You cannot cure this crash with caffeine; the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

      2. Lack of Exercise

      A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

      Advertising

      Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of your everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

      3. A Poor Diet

      The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats.

      The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

      An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by a frozen pizza or cheese sticks.

      Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

      4. Skipping Breakfast

      Eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

      Ingesting food signals to your brain that there are enough calories available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

      Advertising

      Some great ideas for healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

      If meal-prepping isn’t your thing, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit.

      5. Poor Quality of Sleep

      We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed, but did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is if you want to stop asking “Why am I so tired?”

      To feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

      Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time, and before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to fall asleep.

      6. Sleep Apnea

      Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while sleeping[3]. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

      Advertising

      Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

        Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels[4]. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing can be used to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

        If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

        7. Depression

        Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world, as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating that leave them asking “Why am I so tired?”

        Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling, and lifestyle changes, like stress management to help manage this condition.

        Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

        8. Hypothyroidism

        If a person has hypothyroidism, they have an underactive thyroid gland that does not produce adequate levels of important hormones, and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain, and feeling cold all the time.

        Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem, and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills. Check here for signs of a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

        Advertising

        9. Anemia

        People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract, or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

        However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements, or B-12 shots. A simple blood test can tell you if you have anemia, so check in with your doctor if you suspect this.

        10. Cancer

        While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surrounding tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

        Diagnosis is usually by biopsy, and treatment often focuses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery—and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

        Final Thoughts

        If you find yourself constantly asking, “Why am I so tired?” it may be time to see your doctor to find out if any of the problems above apply to you. All of them have treatments that can help improve your quality of life and get you back to normal energy levels.

        More on Overcoming Fatigue

        Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Harvard Health Publishing: Fight fatigue with fluids
        [2] NuCara: Are You Dehydrated?
        [3] Sleep Foundation: Sleep Apnea
        [4] Very Well Health: What Is Sleep Apnea?

        Read Next