Chronic fatigue is becoming a common problem, and it can be extremely debilitating. Often times, it’s referred to as adrenal fatigue, but only in very rare cases is it a true problem with your adrenal function. If you’re dealing with fatigue on a daily basis, you want to get to the root cause of it so you can take steps to heal. There are several common causes of fatigue, and we’ll go into detail about each of them.
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Practical Tips to Overcome Fatigue
Chronic fatigue is becoming a common problem, and it can be extremely debilitating. Often times, it’s referred to as adrenal fatigue, but only in very rare cases is it a true problem with your adrenal function. If you’re dealing with fatigue on a daily basis, you want to get to the root cause of it, so you can take steps to heal. There are several common causes of fatigue, and we’ll go into detail about each of them.
Vitamin R Deficiency
Vitamin R stands for rest, relaxation, and recreation. How much are you getting in your life? Often times, as adults, we are deficient in vitamin R. We don’t rest and relax enough, and we don’t play and have fun. It’s okay to have fun, and it’s necessary to schedule downtime, whatever that is for you. Maybe it’s taking a long walk in nature or getting a pedicure or massage. If you can couple recreation with exercise in which your physical activity is something fun for you to do, that’s even better. Find that thing that you enjoy doing, so it doesn’t feel like exercise as another obligation. Maybe it’s a dance class or a sports league.
While blood sugar may seem basic, it can be a missing component to fatigue in some people. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause fatigue, irritability, and shakiness. Another symptom of low blood sugar is waking during the middle of the night. This could be a cause of your blood sugar dropping and your body shoots off adrenaline and wakes you up.
High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can also cause fatigue. Signs of high blood sugar may be that you crave sweets after a meal and/or you feel tired after a meal. Also, difficulty falling asleep can be a sign of hyperglycemia.
After you eat a meal, check in with yourself and evaluate how you feel. You may need to eat more frequently or moderate the amount of carbohydrates, protein, or healthy fat you’re eating. After a meal, you should simply feel satisfied. Often times people will do better eating lower carb through the day and then eating more carbohydrates at dinner. Carbohydrates help stimulate serotonin production in your brain and body. So if you’re not sleeping well at night, figuring out your ideal carb load at dinner could be helpful.
Food allergies and reactions
Determining food allergies can be tricky. There’s a true food allergy, which is an IgE response. This is your typical acute allergic reaction. There’s food sensitivity, either IgA or IgG response that activates your immune system. There is food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance. There are also food reactions based on your state of gut health, such as histamine intolerance. Blood testing and/or elimination diets can be helpful.
Gut infections and imbalances
When you’ve implemented all of the steps above, and you’re still not feeling better, it may be helpful to test for gut infections and imbalances. This is recommended regardless of whether or not you’re having digestive issues. Types of testing include stool testing for bacterial infections and parasites, testing for fungal overgrowth, breath testing for SIBO.
Anemia and deficiencies
If you have fatigue, one of the first tests you do should be to check for anemia. If you have anemia, you won’t get better until you address this issue. Anemia could be related to iron deficiency or B12 deficiency. It could also be related to inflammation in the body. If you have anemia, you must address the reason why. Are you not getting enough iron in your diet? Is the iron you’re consuming not getting absorbed? Perhaps you’re not producing enough stomach acid to allow for absorption of iron and B vitamins. Celiac disease and gut infections can also cause anemia.
A common symptom of hypothyroid is fatigue. If you suspect thyroid function to be an issue, test for TSH, T3, T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. 90% of patients with hypothyroid actually have Hashimoto’s, or thyroid autoimmunity. Most patients with Hashimoto’s have elevated TPO antibodies. These antibodies don’t just cause problems with your thyroid, but they cause problems with your brain. They cross-react with certain tissues in the cerebellum and contribute to fatigue. The fatigue can be metabolic, brain-based, or both. Common signs and symptoms of a brain issue include balance problems, history of car-sickness that is worsening, nausea when looking at things in motion, low tolerance to alcohol. Additionally, one of the best treatments for brain health is exercise. The more complex the exercise, the better. Implement activities that involve balance and coordination.
If you’d like to learn more about common causes of fatigue and how to resolve them, listen to our podcast with Dr. Carrie here.
If you need help overcoming fatigue, click here
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Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.