And your busy lifestyle isn’t to blame.
Sometimes our fatigue simply comes down to the fact we’re overworking our bodies, running on little sleep and sticking to a demanding workload. Luckily, extreme tiredness of this kind can easily be fixed by having a balanced diet, eating every meal, cutting back on late nights at the office and making sure we get at least six to eight hours of beauty sleep. But what happens when we’ve tried all this and are still struggling to get out of bed every morning?
If you’re finding every day debilitating, it may be an underlying health condition that’s the real issue, so if you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, it may be time to call in to your doctor’s office…
1. Iron deficiency
Affecting roughly five per cent of women aged between 20 and 49, anaemia (commonly known as iron deficiency) is one of the top reasons we continually feel run down. If there’s limited iron in our system, there’s also a lack of red blood cells, which means less oxygen is able to travel around the body, causing weariness and shortness of breath.
Relentless headaches and looking pale are the most noticeable signs of iron deficiency, with those of us who suffer from heavy periods the most susceptible. New York’s Mount Sinai St Luke’s-Roosevelt director of gynecology, Jacques Moritz likens the condition to driving a car that’s running on empty.
“Women with heavy periods lose too much blood, replace about half of it, and then lose too much again the following month.”
Fortunately it’s simple to resolve. Taking iron supplements recommended by your doctor or including lots of iron-rich foods in your diet are easy steps to take. In more severe cases, you may need a transfusion of red blood cells to combat iron deficiency.
Hypothyroidism, or thyroid disease, occurs when the thyroid hormones fall out of balance, causing fatigue and muscle soreness. The condition is extremely common, affecting 20 million people in the US alone, however the American Thyroid Association (ATA) estimates 60 per cent of sufferers are unaware they’re even ill.
As well as weak muscles and fatigue, symptoms of hypothyroidism include constipation, hair loss, difficulty sleeping and unexplained weight gain, a result of under production of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which result in a slowed metabolism.
Fortunately, diagnosing hypothyroidism can be done with a simple blood test and, according to New York Thyroid Center co-director Robert McConnell, you should go to your doctor to ask for a thyroid blood test if you’ve been experiencing the symptoms for more than a few weeks.
“Thyroid disorders are so treatable that all people who complain of fatigue or muscle weakness should have the test done.”
3. Hormonal imbalance
Though you may not be aware of it, we’re constantly exposed to oestrogenic chemicals in our food. And too much oestrogen can lead to a condition known as oestrogen dominance, a hormonal imbalance that can cause extreme fatigue. Furthermore, from the ages of 35 to 50, there is a 75 per cent reduction in the production of progesterone (oestrogen’s antagonist) in the body, which can cause our oestrogen levels to go off kilter.
According to Dr Christiane Northrup, women can suffer with oestrogen dominance for up to 15 years, and in addition to extreme fatigue, symptoms can include migraines, weight gain, polycystic ovaries, low blood sugar, and swollen feet, hands or breasts.
“Many women in their thirties and early forties find they experience moderate to severe symptoms of oestrogen dominance as they approach perimenopause, The oestrogen overstimulates both the brain and the body.”
It’s possible to treat the imbalance naturally by decreasing stress and changing your diet. In particular, increasing the amount of fiber and lowering your intake of caffeine and commercially farmed dairy products can help lower oestrogen.
4. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a cruel illness, and although almost 1 million people in the US suffer from it, the syndrome has baffled medical practitioners and scientists alike as to its origin.
University of Sunderland professor Malcolm Hooper describes the syndrome as one of the most debilitating, and has been campaigning for more studies to be carried out to find a cure.
“Research has shown that [myalgic encephalomyelitis] ME/CFS has been found to be more disabling than MS [multiple sclerosis], heart disease [and] virtually all types of cancer,” says Hooper.
Women are twice as likely to develop CFS as men, and those who suffer will find carrying out even the simplest activities an enormous task – just getting out of bed can be near impossible for CFS sufferers. In addition to fatigue, other symptoms include constant headaches and migraines, muscle and joint pain, difficulty focusing on tasks and sensitive lymph nodes. Daily exercise and getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce the severity of CFS, yet, since there’s no known cure, treatment is tailored to lessening each individual’s symptoms after doctors have excluded other illnesses as possibilities.
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Comment: Have you been diagnosed with any of these? What made you get checked?