If you’re getting eight hours of sleep at night and you still have to drag yourself through the day, it’s time for a fatigue checkup. Here are seven hidden fatigue factors you might need to discuss with your doctor: 1. Anemia
You may be bleeding internally and not know it — bleeding ulcers, for instance, may be slowly dragging you down. Kidney disease can also cause anemia. In women, fibroid tumors or uterine polyps can be the culprit. Whatever the cause, blood loss can lead to a deficiency of hemoglobin, the protein in the blood that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. When your organs and tissues don’t get enough oxygen, the end result is often fatigue. Other telltale symptoms are irritability, dizziness, and feeling cold. A simple blood test can diagnose anemia, and fatigue begins to diminish after only a month of treatment.
[--pageBreak:"Medications"--] 2. Medications
Many medications are known to cause fatigue as a side effect, but it may not even be listed on the label. If you’ve recently started feeling fatigued after taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if the new drug could be your problem. If so, they can recommend a substitute. Medications that can cause fatigue include antihistamines, sleeping pills, steroids, blood pressure medications, and diuretics.
[--pageBreak:"Hypothyroidism"--] 3. Hypothyroidism
If you are depressed, sluggish, and generally run-down, you may have an underactive thyroid. The thyroid is a tiny gland with a big job; it sits at the base of your neck and regulates the speed at which your whole body operates. While hypothyroidism affects both men and women, by age 60, 17 percent of all women will have a thyroid disorder and not know it, according to the American Thyroid Foundation. A blood test can diagnose it, and medication can chase fatigue away.
[--pageBreak:"Caffeine"--] 4. Caffeine
It’s everywhere these days – from fancy coffee drinks to so-called “energy” drinks. Too much of a good thing, though, can drag you down instead of giving you a boost. “In some patients, continued abuse results in fatigue,” Dr. W. Stephen Pray told WebMD. Try cutting out as much caffeine as possible to find out if it’s causing your fatigue, and keep in mind that caffeine is found in chocolate, tea, and also in some medications.
[--pageBreak:"Food Allergies"--] 5. Food allergies
Intolerance or allergic reactions to food can cause symptoms from headaches to hives, but the first symptom is often drowsiness or fatigue within 10 to 30 minutes of eating the offending food. Common offenders are milk, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, shellfish, and sugar, although any food can cause problems. If you suspect a food intolerance, try an “elimination diet” that cuts out the food for a week or so, then try it again. Continued eating of a food your body can’t tolerate can lead not only to chronic fatigue but other health problems as well.
[--pageBreak:"Sleep Apnea"--] 6. Sleep apnea
You may only think you’re getting eight hours of sleep. You may actually stop breathing many times during the night, which awakens you just long enough to disturb your sleep, usually without your being aware of it. If you sleep alone, your only clue that you may have sleep apnea is chronic fatigue. If you share a bed with someone, snoring is also a symptom. (They’ll let you know!) A sleep clinic can diagnose sleep apnea, and medication can often get you back on the road to restful nights. If you don’t treat it, you’re at an increased risk for a stroke or heart attack.
[--pageBreak:"Sick Building"--] 7. Sick building
Your workplace may be filled with mold and other substances that can cause your fatigue. Ventilation ducts may be filled with mold and pollen because they are seldom, if ever, cleaned, but constantly recirculated. Chemicals from office equipment, such as copy machines and printers, along with commercial insect sprays and air fresheners may combine to create a toxic environment. “Sick” buildings often have levels of harmful chemicals many times higher than normal. Speak with your supervisor about solutions, which could include an air purifier in your work space.