Causes And Solutions For Fatigue
Long term fatigue is one of the most common reasons people seek medical help. The problem is, fatigue is a symptom of so many different health problems. That means getting to the bottom of the cause of fatigue can be very difficult. Fatigue can significantly reduce quality of life and take away the motivation to eat well, exercise and generally take care of yourself. Healthy food preparation can understandably be too exhausting if you’re tired all the time.
Autoimmune disease and chronic infections typically cause long standing fatigue that takes a long time to resolve. Luckily some causes of fatigue are easily fixed; nutrient deficiencies and gut problems are fairly easy to remedy, and our patients start feeling better quickly.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is fatigue on an entirely different level. It means that fatigue is consistent and severe enough to reduce normal daily activities by at least 50 percent, for a minimum of six months. This type of fatigue is not resolved after a night’s sleep.
There are typically other symptoms associated with CFS, including sore throat, significant post-exercise or exertional pain; poor memory, foggy head, sleep disturbances, muscle pain, and tender lymph nodes. Sadly, the majority of patients with CFS remain functionally impaired for many years.
What are the most common causes of fatigue?
These are the things I check for in my fatigued patients:
Overwhelmingly, I find that patients with digestive problems experience fatigue. This makes sense because the health of your digestive organs determines how well you absorb the nutrients from your meals, and also how well you eliminate wastes and toxins. Improving gut health is vital for increasing energy. There is so much helpful information in The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book.
Nutritional deficiencies. Iron deficiency in menstruating women is the most common. This can be detected via a blood test for iron studies, particularly looking at ferritin levels. The most common causes of low iron are heavy menstrual bleeding; being a vegetarian or vegan, malabsorption due to digestive problems (such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or the loss of blood from an area of the body (eg. Bleeding bowel polyps). Other common nutritional deficiencies include vitamin B12 (common in vegetarians, vegans and people with digestive problems), vitamin D, magnesium and selenium.
Chronic infections in the body – these can be bacterial such as Lyme Disease from tick bites, streptococcus, staphylococcus, or viral such as the herpes viruses, including glandular fever and herpes virus 6, which is strongly associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Autoimmune disease is a very common cause of fatigue. There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases. Their symptoms vary depending on which part of the body is affected. Two symptoms they all have in common is chronic fatigue and unrefreshing sleep. A lot of autoimmune diseases cause chronic pain, and this has a very draining effect on a person’s energy level. For more information see the book titled Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Leaky gut is strongly associated with fatigue. This is because if the gut lining is inflamed, the absorption of nutrients is impaired. Unfortunately it also means that high levels of bowel wastes and toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream. They travel to the liver and increase its workload. Since leaky gut is a feature of all autoimmune disease, there is a large section about how to overcome it in our book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation. Removing food allergens and inflammatory foods from the diet, and taking glutamine to heal the gut lining are critical.
Toxicity. Having a high level of toxins in your body can cause significant fatigue. Toxins can come from the external environment (eg. air and water pollution, cosmetics, food additives) or be generated inside your body (these are called endotoxins). It is true that your liver is supposed to detoxify your body, but most of us don’t have a 100 percent healthy liver, and the amount of toxins most of us are exposed to on a daily basis has never been higher. The sad fact is we live in a highly polluted world and our health is suffering. That’s why I developed the Dr Cabot 15 Day Cleanse. It comprises supplements to improve liver, gut and immune health, to help restore good health and vibrant energy.
Inadequate amounts of neurotransmitters in the brain (particularly dopamine, noradrenalin and serotonin) can result in mental fatigue, low motivation and mood disorders. Tyrosine Mood Food is used by the brain for neurotransmitter production, and helps to increase motivation and satisfaction.
Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle results in poor circulation of blood and mental sluggishness.
Insomnia and/or chronic stress. Insomnia can be tricky to overcome, because it can be caused by a variety of factors. Ensuring you get enough magnesium in your diet is important. If you have trouble falling asleep, the natural hormone melatonin can help.
Thyroid problems, which often remain undetected can cause fatigue. Sometimes thyroid hormones are borderline; they aren’t abnormal enough for the average doctor to treat, yet the abnormality is significant enough to cause low energy, inability to lose weight, depression and other symptoms. For solutions, see our book Your Thyroid Problems Solved.
Low levels of testosterone in men and women. Low testosterone is associated with depression, low motivation and drive.
There are many other causes of fatigue; some of which are obvious, but some are hard to detect and that is why it is vital to see a medical practitioner who is thorough.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.